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1. What are the common causes of blood in stool?
Blood observed in stools indicate that bleeding may have occurred somewhere in the gastrointestinal tract. Common causes include anal fissures, diverticular disease, colitis which is inflammation of the colon, peptic ulcer, angiodysplasia, polyps, haemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel diseases, colorectal cancer and esophageal disorders.
2. How is blood in the stool detected?
Condition can be diagnosed by nasogastric lavage which is done to check for gastric bleeding, colonoscopy in which the colon is examined using a camera, esophagogastroduodenoscopy in which a camera is inserted to determine the source of bleeding, barium x-ray, enteroscopy, angiography, radionuclide scans and laparotomy.
3. Who should I consult to treat the cause of blood in stool?
For mild cases a general practitioner can be consulted whereas for cases where the symptoms are severe, a gastroenterologist should be consulted. If the condition is due to colorectal or other cancers an oncologist or an oncosurgeon may be consulted to help determine an effective treatment option.
4. Does the presence of blood in stool indicate a medical emergency?
Though presence of blood in stool is not always an emergency, however, cases in which the patient experiences very heavy or continuous bleeding, abdominal cramps blurred vision, rapid breathing, dizziness, fainting, nausea, pale and clammy skin, low urine output and other signs of shock require immediate medical attention.
5. Can blood in stool be treated with dietary changes?
Eating a fibre rich diet is effective in preventing constipation and thus reduces pain and bleeding occurring due to anal fissures as well as other disorders causing rectal bleeding. Fluids, legumes and vitamin rich fruits and vegetables should be consumed. Avoid white bread and processed foods. For patients suffering from ulcerative colitis or Chron's disease, fibrous food should be avoided.