You probably don’t want to yell “I have blood in my poop!” when you’re standing in a crowd. However, if you turn around one day and see bloody stools in the toilet, it’s certainly something you might be screaming inside your head. Seeing blood is bad enough, seeing your own blood is worse. When you start seeing blood in your poop, that’s gone too far. If you’ve just exclaimed to yourself, “I have blood in my poop!”, what could be the problem? What should you do?
There are actually quite a few reasons why you might have blood in your poop. Some of them could be serious. Most of them are not. The first thing you need to ask yourself is, “How do I know it’s blood?” You may not have realized this before, but there are actually several foods that can make your poop look bloody. Tomatoes and beets can turn your stools red. That makes sense now that you think about it, doesn’t it? Other possibilities include blueberries, licorice, iron supplements, Pepto-Bismol–all of these can turn your stools black, which looks a lot like blood in your poop. So the first thing you need to eliminate as a cause is your diet. Have you eaten any of these foods or taken any of these substances in the last 18 hours?
If food is not the cause of your strange-looking stools, then you probably should accept the likelihood that you actually do have blood in your poop. By itself, this certainly isn’t the end of the world. But here’s the thing–you need to call up your doctor and tell him, “I have blood in my poop!” Or, you might want to wait until you’re back in one of those private exam room. It’s your decision. But don’t delay making an appointment to see your doctor. Most causes of blood in your poop are minor. But it’s important for you to know for sure.
The very first thing that your doctor will want to know is what color your stools were. The obvious answer is “red,” but not all bloody poop is red. The actual color depends on where the problem is. The farther up your digestive tract the bleeding is occurring, the darker the blood will be. You see, as blood passes through your intestines, bacteria works to digest it like food. The chemical changes that bacteria cause darkens the color of the blood. The longer it stays inside your body, the darker it gets.
So what does this all mean? Well, bright red blood in your stool most likely was added just before exiting your body. The most common causes of bright red blood in your poop are hemorrhoids and anal fissures. Hemorrhoids can begin to bleed when you strain during a bowel movement or even when you wipe a little too roughly. Anal fissures are also quite sensitive to straining and may cause you to have bloody poop. If this is the cause of your problem, the doctor will probably encourage you to drink more fluids and deal with any possible causes of constipation. Another remedy that will provide great results is a colon cleanse. Natural colon cleaners help to remove old waste matter that may be contributing to your constipation.
Darker blood in your stools means that the cause is more likely in your stomach or small intestine. One of the most common causes of blood from your stomach is a bleeding ulcer. Although this sounds dangerous, it’s often a result of taking medication. Even over-the-counter medications like aspirin or ibuprofen can lead to ulcers that cause no pain but that bleed into your digestive tract. If your doctor believes that this is a likely cause, he may recommend a change in medications.
Why is it so important to tell your doctor about blood in your poop? The problem could be caused by bleeding from intestinal polyps. Polyps are not that dangerous by themselves, but there is a possibility that polyps could develop into colon cancer. This type of cancer is much more likely in people over age 50. If that describes you, then you should not hesitate to get screened for colon cancer. Although colon cancer is one of the major cancer killers, it’s also very easy to prevent. By discovering and removing polyps before they turn cancerous, colon cancer can be completely prevented. Whenever you notice anything that might indicate digestive tract bleeding, call your doctor immediately and tell him, “I have blood in my poop!”