Blood in Poop

There are a lot of strange or uncomfortable terms you’ll hear when the subject is blood in poop-your doctor will say blood in the stools or feces, or he will want to test you for fecal occult blood.   Often you notice the blood easily, when it’s bright red.  If it’s a darker color it’s not so obvious.  “Occult” means hidden; when your doctor orders a fecal occult blood test he’s just looking for hidden blood.

Bright red blood usually means something different than dark red, brown, or even black blood. Bright red blood in poop, on the toilet tissue, or in the toilet water usually means something is bleeding not too far from the anus. Some of the most common causes include:

  • Constipation. If your stools are hard and you have to strain to eliminate them, then maybe you need more fiber in your diet. Be certain to drink plenty of water on a daily basis, because your poop dries out just like your skin does. When you see bright red blood in poop, it’s often caused by the delicate tissues in your rectum or around your anus tearing when you go to the bathroom.

  • Hemorrhoids. These are irritated blood vessels at the lower end of the rectum. They are affected by many types of pressure, including the hard stools being forced past them. Pregnant women experience them, as well as people who have to stoop down a lot in their work. The blood vessels become swollen and itchy. Sometimes a swollen vessel will even protrude from your anus so that you need to push it back in! There are places on the internet, like, where you can read about cures for hemorrhoids. They are not life-threatening, but they are difficult to cure.

  • Abrasions. What, you are wondering, could cause an intestinal abrasion? If you chew on pumpkin seeds or especially sunflower seeds, the shells are not digested. They just get pushed through your intestines along with everything else, and they can create little tears in your intestinal tissue. Many people are turning to colonic cleansing to eliminate these plus the other foods (the constipating kind!) that just sit in your intestines. This type of treatment has been demonstrated on Tyra Banks’ popular television show, and you can read more about the shock and trauma of blood in poop at

When blood is darker, that signals that it took longer to make its way out of your body.  It can look dark red or brown, as mentioned above, or blood in poop can simply look like tarry black stools.  When that happens, the proper medical word is melena.

  • You might see dark blood when colonic polyps bleed. Sometimes there can be either benign (harmless) or malignant (cancerous) masses in the intestines.
  • Bacterial intestinal infections can cause blood in poop. You’ve heard of strep and staph, but the intestinal bacteria best known for infection is probably the clostridium-difficile, also known as C-diff. You can develop this infection just from taking too many antibiotics.
  • Ulcers are a common cause of blood in poop. When they are in the stomach (peptic ulcers) or the upper part of the intestines (duodenal ulcers), they will result in the melena we mentioned. Ulcerative colitis that affects the lower intestinal tract produces the brighter red blood in poop.

There are other causes, such as Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, or anal fissures.  You should never put off going to the doctor’s office, but whether you notice bright or dark blood in poop, you will find a lot of information available on the internet that can point you in the right direction

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