Blood in stools can give you a good scare. The good news is that it is not always indicative of a serious health problem. Still, it is important to see your doctor so that diagnostic tests can determine if the blood is a symptom of a potentially serious health concern.
The simplest explanation for blood in your stools is bleeding somewhere in the digestive tract. Your doctor or gastroenterologist can help determine where the bleeding originates.
Keep in mind that not all blood in stools is visible to the naked eye. Whereas some people can see blood after wiping on their toilet paper, others can only be detected by a test that finds hidden blood in stools. Sometimes, bleeding occurs high enough up in the digestive tract that stools appear black and tarry. If you notice any of these symptoms, please notify your doctor.
Possible Health Problems Linked to Blood in Stools
- Anal fissures
- Intestinal problems
There are several tests your doctor may recommend to diagnose bloody stools including:
- Capsule Endoscopy
For an EGD, your doctor inserts a flexible tube with a small camera attached to the end through the mouth and down the esophagus into the stomach. This can also be used to collect small tissue samples for a biopsy.
A colonoscopy is very similar to an EGD only in reverse. This time the tube is inserted through the anus and it allows the doctor to see the entire large intestine (colon). Tissue samples can also be collected to biopsy.
A capsule endoscopy is a procedure which entails swallowing a pill-sized capsule with a tiny camera. Images are sent via blue tooth to a belt worn by the patient as the capsule passes through the digestive tract. The purpose of this test is to visualize the small intestine / small bowel.
With all of these diagnostic tools, your doctor should be able to diagnose if any serious problems are causing blood in your stools. Just know that it is very important to see a doctor as soon as possible so that you can catch problems earlier — when they are more treatable – than later.
If you notice blood in your stools, contact the Department of Gastroenterology at La Peer Health Systems in Beverly Hills at (855) 360-9119.