Red Blood in the Stool: Is This a Cause for Concern?
Detecting red bloody stool can be a cause for concern and may leave you feeling worried about your general health. But blood in your stool (called hematochezia) does not always indicate a serious medical issue. Several conditions may result in having blood in the stool. The gastroenterologists at Arizona Digestive Health frequently treat this concern and can determine the reason for gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding in people of all ages throughout the greater Phoenix area.
What might blood in the stool indicate?
Blood in a bowel movement is a sign that bleeding has happened somewhere along the digestive tract. Bleeding might happen in any portion of the GI system, which starts at the esophagus and ends at the rectum. Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool can be caused by minor internal conditions that can be managed easily. But since blood in a bowel movement can also be an indication of a variety of concerning GI problems, it is of great importance to consult with a GI doctor as early as possible to confirm its cause.
What causes red blood in the stool?
Although blood in the stool may be completely a benign symptom, it may also be evidence of a more significant health condition and should never be ignored. Bloody stool causes could include:
Should I see a GI physician for bloody stool?
Instances of blood in bowel movements that occur more than once should be assessed by a gastrointestinal specialist. Timely care should be received if a large amount of blood is present or in instances where symptoms, such as diarrhea, abdominal discomfort, exhaustion, lightheadedness, or other concerns, also arise. The doctors at Arizona Digestive Health can perform testing to ascertain at what point along the GI tract the bleeding is originating. They can also identify bloody stool causes and decide if treatment is required. Common procedures performed to diagnose the cause of rectal bleeding or bloody stool among Phoenix-area patients include:
- Fecal tests (stool cultures): These common lab tests can detect the presence of occult (hidden) blood in a stool sample, which can be an indicator of colorectal cancer or additional GI conditions. It’s also important to know about iliac vein compression as this can cause discomfort, swelling, pain or clots in the iliofemoral veins.
- Upper endoscopy: Frequently referred to as an upper GI, an upper endoscopy involves the insertion of a flexible scope that contains a small camera through the oral cavity and into the GI tract. This diagnostic procedure can help determine if the blood in the stool could be coming from an issue impacting the throat, esophagus, or stomach, which comprise the upper portion of the gastrointestinal system.
- Capsule endoscopy: With this diagnostic procedure, a tiny capsule that houses a wireless camera is swallowed, similar to an oral pill. The small camera captures and sends pictures of the digestive system as it makes its way through the upper gastrointestinal tract and into the small intestine.
- Colonoscopy: With a colonoscopy procedure, a flexible tube fitted with a state-of-the-art camera is used to convey a live-feed image of the lining of the colon (large intestine). GI physicians may recommend this tool to identify growths or conditions within the large intestine or rectum that could be causing red blood in the stool or rectal bleeding. Polyps can often also be excised throughout the course of a colonoscopy. Polyp removal can lessen the possibility of developing colon cancer in the future.
Expert care for digestive conditions in Phoenix, AZ
Gastrointestinal health is a very important part of your systemic health and wellness. If you have blood in your stool or rectal bleeding after having a bowel movement, it is vital to talk to a gastrointestinal specialist to diagnose its cause and help improve your health. Reach out to Arizona Digestive Health in Phoenix, AZ to book a consultation with an experienced GI specialist.