Is Red Blood in the Stool a Concerning Symptom?

Finding dark or bright red bloody stool can be unsettling and might leave you distressed about your overall health. However, blood in your stool (hematochezia) doesn't always mean there is a major health concern. Several conditions can result in having blood in the stool. The gastroenterologists at Illinois Gastroenterology Group often treat this issue and can diagnose the reason for rectal bleeding or bloody stools among children and adults in the Chicago, IL area.

What can blood in the stool mean?

Blood in a bowel movement is a sign that bleeding has occurred somewhere within the digestive system. Bleeding might happen in any area of the gastrointestinal system, which starts at the esophagus and ends at the anus. Gastrointestinal bleeding or blood in the stool in Chicago, IL individuals may be a result of minor digestive conditions that are easy to treat and manage. But because bloody stools could also be evidence of a number of serious digestive conditions, it's essential to see a gastroenterologist as soon as possible to confirm its source.

Does blood in my stool indicate a serious GI problem?

The source of bloody stools might be totally benign in nature. But this symptom could also point to a more complex and serious medical problem that requires further investigation. Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding causes could include:

  1. Cancer of the colon
  2. Gastric cancer
  3. Crohn’s disease
  4. Ulcerative colitis
  5. Anal fissures
  6. Hemorrhoids

When should I visit a GI specialist about bloody stool?

Any symptoms, like bloody stools, that occur more than once should be assessed by a gastroenterologist. Immediate treatment should be received if the amount of blood in the stool is heavy or in instances where diarrhea, pain in the abdomen, exhaustion, dizzy spells, or other symptoms are also present. The doctors at Illinois Gastroenterology Group may suggest diagnostic procedures to learn in what area of the digestive system the bleeding is coming from. They can also specify the causes of blood in the stool and decide if any treatment is needed. Common services often performed to examine the cause of blood in the stool or rectal bleeding include:

  • Colonoscopy: With a colonoscopy, an endoscope equipped with a video camera is used to gain a real-time view of the internal structure of the large intestine (colon). GI specialists use this procedure to identify conditions within the rectum or large intestine that may be the source of red blood in the stool or rectal bleeding. Colon polyps may also be excised in a colonoscopy procedure, which may aid in reducing the risk of developing colon cancer as time goes on.
  • Upper endoscopy: Also referred to as an upper GI, an upper endoscopy involves the placement of a flexible tube that houses a tiny camera through the mouth and into the GI tract. This diagnostic procedure can help determine whether bloody stools is originating from an issue impacting the stomach, esophagus, or throat, which make up the upper portion of the digestive tract.
  • Capsule endoscopy: With this diagnostic procedure, a small capsule containing a wireless camera is swallowed, similar to an oral pill. The small camera captures and sends pictures of the digestive system as it migrates along the upper gastrointestinal system and into the small intestine.
  • Fecal tests (stool cultures): These types of laboratory tests can pick up on the presence of hidden (occult) blood in a stool sample, which might be an indicator of cancer of the colon or other gastrointestinal issues.

Qualified care for digestive conditions in Chicago, IL

Gastrointestinal health is highly significant to your general wellness. If you notice blood in your stool or rectal bleeding, it's of utmost importance to talk to a gastrointestinal physician to diagnose its cause and help protect your health. Reach out to Illinois Gastroenterology Group in the Chicago, IL area today to schedule a consultation with a skilled GI specialist.