Lower Gastrointestinal Bleeding
Blood is something that evokes a feeling of panic and stress among most people, be it seeing your own blood or blood of someone else. Bleeding in stool may not be a very common complaint but whenever it arises, it creates a feeling of anxiety and embarrassment among people.
Types of lower gastrointestinal bleeding:
Lower gastrointestinal bleeding is mostly seen coming from anal canal or with stool. It may be:
- Fresh red blood coming from anal canal
- Fresh plus slightly maroon blood coming with stool
- Having black stools
Each type of presentation has a variety of different reasons. For example:
Fresh red blood coming from anal canal:
In most cases it is because of trauma or trivial reasons and chances are less that it may be because of serious issue like cancer. In most cases, fresh blood coming from anus is because of trauma or injury due to:
- Passage of very hard stool that damage the lining of anal skin leading to bleeding.
- Hemorrhoids that bleed upon straining.
Blood mixed with stool:
Blood that is mixed with stool indicates that the lesion or site of bleeding is above anus (may be in rectum or lower gut) and is mostly taken seriously. In majority of the vases, lower gastrointestinal bleeding has other associated features too that help in making diagnosis. All cancers are associated with significant weight loss, so once you consult your physician give him complete details. Blood mixed with stool may be because of:
- This type of finding may be seen in case of cancer of rectum (part of lower gut where stool is stored before evacuation).
- Maroon blood mixed with stool can also be seen in internal hemorrhoids (which are relatively painful as compared to bleeding from external hemorrhoids, which is painless).
Black stools are tarry and sticky by nature and are considered most serious. This indicates that there is an active bleeding source in lower gut or around mid gut. In most cases, this is an indication of bowel cancer (increase the suspicion many fold). Apart from colon cancer, black stools may be because of:
- Certain foods
- Those who take Iron or Zinc supplements also have black stools.
What you should do?
Once you see some abnormality in normal consistency or color your stool, consult your physician immediately.
- It is always safe to eat a fiber rich diet to protect yourself from stomach and other gastrointestinal ailments.
- To avoid hemorrhoids, it is best to seek medical attention as soon as you observe blood in stool or a mass coming out of anus, before it get more complicated or worse.
- Once you develop hemorrhoids, avoid constipation at all times as it may further increase the intensity of hemorrhoid and make the case even more complicated.
- Increase the intake of anti-oxidants in your diet to avoid bowel cancer, this is especially recommended if you have a positive family history of bowel cancer.
- If you have a positive family history of bowel cancer, it is recommended to request your doctor to start your screening test after the age of 45 years, even if you don’t have any symptoms.
- The ideal screening test for bowel cancer, which is cost effective and convenient is Fecal Occult Blood Testing (FOBT), recommended for everyone after the age of 50 to 55 years.