1. What are the common causes of blood in stool?
The common causes of blood in stool are as follows: haemorrhoids (swelling of blood veins at the rectum); anal fissures; anal abscess; diverticulitis (small pouches in the intestine); stomach or intestinal ulcers; inflammatory bowel disease; and cancer of the stomach or intestine.
2. How is blood in the stool detected?
You may self detect the presence of blood in the stool or its appearance on your toilet seat. Laboratory test referred to as faecal occult blood is available. The pathologist will test the stool sample for the presence of blood not visible to the naked eye. Doctors may order barium X-ray test or internal tests by inserting a camera attached to a tube (endoscopy) to check the location of bleeding.
3. Who should I consult to treat the cause of blood in stool?
Your family doctor may order the laboratory test to detect the presence of blood in the stool and a blood cell count to find out the loss of blood. He or she may refer you to a specialist for treating fissures or haemorrhoids or an oncologist if the cause is cancer. If needed the doctor may order colonoscopy (Inserting a camera attached to a tube in the colon to take pictures)
4. Does the presence of blood in stool indicate a medical emergency?
Presence of blood in the stool can be due to several reasons many of them are easily treatable. However, in some cases, it may indicate a medical emergency. Bright red blood mixed with stools can indicate the presence of irritable bowel disease or rectal cancer. Prolonged blood loss through stools can cause fainting and shock. Such conditions need immediate attention.
5. Can blood in stool be treated with dietary changes?
In some conditions such as haemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome dietary changes can help to avoid blood in stool by avoiding constipation. These are as follows: increase dietary fibre by eating whole wheat, oats, fruits with skin, cooked vegetables and beans; increase intake of water; and avoid eating cheese, chips, ice cream, meat and processed food.