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If you have blood in your stools and you feel faint, dizzy or light-headed, this may be an emergency. Go to the nearest emergency department as soon as possible or call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

Go to the emergency department if you have heavy rectal bleeding and also have bad stomach pains.

Appearance of blood in stools

How the blood looks depends on where it is coming from.

Spots of red blood on the toilet paper, drops in the toilet bowl or blood on the surface of your stool indicate a problem in the anus and lower rectum.

However, if the blood is mixed in with your stool, this suggests bleeding might be from higher up in the bowel.

If your stools are black and like tar, and they smell bad, this is also probably because the blood is coming from higher up in the bowel.

Causes of blood in stools

Blood in your stool can be caused by many different things. These include:

  • haemorrhoids
  • anal fissures, which are small painful cracks in the anus
  • bowel infections
  • bowel cancer
  • colorectal polyps, which are small growths that can become cancerous
  • inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis)
  • diverticular disease
  • an injury

When to see a doctor

If you have any blood in your stool, make sure you get it checked out by a doctor.

As well as blood in your stool, you might have other symptoms that could indicate something more serious is going on.

If you have blood in your stools and you feel faint, dizzy or light-headed, this may be an emergency. Go to the nearest emergency department as soon as possible or call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

If you are losing weight and have blood in your stools, this suggests an illness that needs treatment. See your doctor as soon as possible.

If you received some trauma to the area, you might have an injury or a foreign object in the area. Seek an examination from your doctor as soon as possible.

Tests for blood in stools

Your doctor will talk to you, examine you, and should arrange some tests to investigate the cause. The doctor will choose the right test for you based on your age, symptoms and medical history. Possible tests include:

  • rectal examination — your doctor or nurse looks and feels around your rectum, anal canal and nearby organs, such as the prostate and bladder
  • anoscopy — a procedure where your doctor will use a camera in a tube to view the last 5cm of your anus and lower rectum
  • sigmoidoscopy — a procedure where your doctor uses a camera to check inside your rectum and most of your lower large intestine (‘sigmoid colon’)
  • colonoscopy — a physician uses a camera that sits within a tube to examine your entire colon

Some of these tests are done under sedation and anaesthetic. Ask your doctor for more information.


If you notice any blood in your stool, see your doctor for an examination as soon as possible.

The right treatment for blood in your stool depends on what is causing the problem.

For some problems, the treatment could be to make changes to your lifestyle or diet.

If the blood in your stool is caused by something more serious, such as diverticular disease or bowel cancer, you might need more urgent and invasive treatment.

Page 1 of 2 A functional disorder refers to a disorder or disease where the primary abnormality is an alteration in the way the body works. These disorders generally cannot be diagnosed in a traditional way; that is, as an inflammatory, infectious, or structural abnormality that can be seen by commonly used examination, x-ray, or blood test.

The lack of an obvious cause, and the absence of a physical abnormality in the gut (stomach, esophagus, and intestines) are features common to all the functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. While these disorders are more common than structural diseases, they are not life threatening. However, they often impair quality of life.

Nevertheless, the presence of a functional disorder does not exclude the possibility of a co-existing disease, and your doctor will be on the lookout for worrying symptoms and signs. The following discussion describes so-called “alarm symptoms” that are not explained by any functional disorder, and therefore demand further inquiry.

Alarm Symptoms


Bleeding from the gut implies that there is a break in the integrity of the intestinal lining (mucosa). Bleeding can occur throughout the length of the gut and possible causes include: benign and malignant tumors; inflammation such as infectious colitis or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD); ulcers such as peptic ulcers; esophagitis; or a traumatic tear such as may occur in the anus (fissure) or the lower end of the esophagus. Often the source of the bleeding is not obvious, although its nature may offer clues as to its origins. Intestinal bleeding is potentially serious and demands investigation – often as an emergency.

Bright red blood covering the surface of the stool means the bleeding is at or just above the anus. It is a common symptom and usually turns out to be a tear of the anus itself (anal fissure), especially if the stools are very hard and painful to pass. Less commonly such bleeding can be due to a proctitis (inflammation of the lower rectum usually due to IBD) or a rectal tumor. Inspection of the anus and sigmoidoscopy can identify these.

In those who have a family history of colon cancer, or who are older than 50 years of age, the doctor may order a colon examination to exclude it – usually a colonoscopy.

Bright red blood mixed with the stools indicates the bleeding is acute and likely in the colon. Causes include infections, IBD, diverticula, or tumor. If a great deal of blood is lost, an emergency colonoscopy will be necessary. Sometimes bleeding from the stomach can be so perfuse that it appears as bright red blood from the rectum. In this case, the individual may be faint and show signs of blood-loss shock – an emergency situation.

Slower bleeding from the upper GI tract (esophagus, stomach, or duodenum) will show as darker blood or even as black, tar-like stools. Bleeding ulcers (often due to NSAIDS), or ruptured esophageal veins seen in liver disease are common causes.

Sometimes the bleeding is very slow, and of insufficient volume to discolor the stool. Here the bleeding is said to be “occult,” and may be detected if the doctor notices a person is pale or if blood tests reveal an anemia (low blood hemoglobin).


Vomiting can be a functional or structural disorder, and itself will require investigation. However, vomiting blood is definitely due to a structural cause such as a stomach or duodenal ulcer, stomach cancer, esophageal vein bleeding, or esophagitis. Violent vomiting from any cause, including a functional one, can tear the lower esophagus and initiate bleeding.

No matter whether the bleeding is bright red, dark red, black and tarry, or occult, there must be a structural cause. Diagnosis of the bleeding source and control of the bleeding are priorities. Coincident functional disturbances are innocent bystanders that can be dealt with later.


Fever is the body’s reaction to inflammation, which may be infectious as in acute bacterial gastroenteritis, or non-infectious as in IBD. Since there is no overt inflammation in the functional gut disorders, fever is always due to something else. Most fevers turn out to be due to an acute, brief illness, but a fever must be investigated if it persists. Normally, oral temperature does not exceed 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius).

Weight Loss

People lose weight for reasons other than illness. These may include increased activity, eating less, or deliberate dieting. Normally functional gut disorders do not cause weight loss unless there is accompanying depression or anxiety disorder. As a rule of thumb, a loss of 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) over 3 months is significant and in the absence of an explanation may require some investigations.

Difficulty Swallowing

Also known as dysphagia, difficulty swallowing food is an important symptom. Distinct from globus (where a person feels “a lump” in the throat unassociated with meals and can swallow when asked), dysphagia suggests there is something partially obstructing the esophagus.

Occasionally, swallowing may also be painful (odynophagia), and accompanied by hoarseness or throat pain. Prompt endoscopy is required to find the source of the obstruction which can be a benign narrowing (stricture), a fibrous band at the lower end of the esophagus (Schatzki ring), failure of esophageal motility (eg, achalasia), or a benign or malignant tumor. Only rarely, when all causes of esophageal obstruction have been excluded by tests, can dysphagia be deemed “functional.”

Sometimes food becomes stuck in the esophagus, which can be hazardous. Prompt attention to dysphagia is important.

Learn more about dysphagia

Chest Pain

If one has repeated chest pain, it is of primary importance to exclude angina pectoris due to heart disease. Characteristic features of angina include a feeling of a heavy weight on the chest, extension of the pain to the left arm or neck, provocation by physical activity, and relief with rest. Normally a cardiologist will do the appropriate tests, and if they are negative refer the patient to a gastroenterologist to look for an esophageal cause.

A careful history usually, but not always, differentiates the chest pain from heartburn. In many cases, the pain is due to gastroesophageal reflux and responds to adequate doses of a gastric acid suppressing drug such as a proton pump inhibitor (PPI). Some tests of esophageal motility may be helpful, but they seldom make a precise diagnosis. Functional chest pain is uncommon and diagnosed only when all structural causes are excluded.

Other Circumstances

A sudden change in bowel habit or other gut symptom in someone over 50 years of age should attract diagnostic attention. Sometimes that means a cancer in the colon, esophagus, or stomach, requiring endoscopy to exclude it.

The gut goes to sleep when we do, and is normally undisturbed by functional gut symptoms, although there are exceptions. Therefore, night-time pain, when it occurs, may be a symptom of structural disease and requires further examination.

Many structural gut diseases run in families, so it is important to know and report family health history. Colon cancer, IBD, and celiac disease are more common in the first-degree relatives of affected persons. A family history of colon cancer should prompt a colonoscopy to screen for precancerous polyps whose removal can prevent cancer.

Many experts are now recommending colonoscopy in persons over 50 years of age whether symptoms are present or not. Here the indication for colonoscopy is not the functional gut symptoms, but rather the unrelated increased risk of cancer.

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Rectal Bleeding

Rectal Bleeding

Rectal bleeding often reveals itself as bright red blood on the toilet paper—usually after a bowel movement—or by turning the toilet bowl water red. Rectal bleeding can also present as extremely dark stool, ranging in color from deep red/maroon to black, and sometimes appearing tar-like (melena).

The color of the blood can indicate where the bleeding is coming from:

  • Bright red blood usually indicates bleeding low in the colon or rectum
  • Dark red or maroon blood usually indicates bleeding higher in the colon or the small bowel
  • Melena usually means bleeding in the stomach, such as bleeding from ulcers

Not all rectal bleeding is visible to the eye. In some cases, rectal bleeding can only be seen by looking at a stool sample through a microscope. There is also a test, called a Hemoccult® test that can be done in a doctor’s office.

What are the symptoms associated with rectal bleeding?

The symptoms of rectal bleeding may include:

  • Rectal pain and/or pressure
  • Bright red blood in/on the stool, on underwear, and/or in the toilet
  • Red, maroon, or black stool color
  • Stool that has a tar-like appearance
  • Confusion
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Fainting

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It is common to see blood on the toilet paper, around the faeces, or in the toilet after a bowel motion. This is known as rectal bleeding and it can occur for many reasons. Most of the time rectal bleeding is not a sign of a serious illness, but it is important to see your doctor.

What is rectal bleeding?

Rectal bleeding means bleeding from your back passage (anus) when you go to the toilet and pass faeces.

When should I go to the emergency department?

You should always have rectal bleeding checked out by a doctor as it could be a sign of something serious.

Seek urgent medical attention if the bleeding is very heavy and you have signs of shock like rapid, shallow breathing, dizziness, nausea or confusion. Go to the nearest emergency department as soon as possible or call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.

Go to the emergency department if you have heavy rectal bleeding and also have bad stomach pains.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — Our Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

What are the symptoms of rectal bleeding?

The colour of your blood can indicate where in the gastrointestinal system the bleeding is coming from. For example, fresh, bright red blood can show the bleeding is coming from lower in the bowel, nearer to the back passage, which may be a sign of haemorrhoids or fissures.

Bleeding in your large intestine (colon) may be fresh red or a darker red and mixed in with your faeces. One of the causes can be polyps, which are growths on the intestinal wall. Polyps are usually harmless, but some types can turn into bowel cancer.

Faeces that are black, like tar, and that have a very bad smell may suggest a problem higher up in the gastrointestinal system — for example, in the stomach or duodenum — such as a bleeding ulcer.

CHECK YOUR SYMPTOMS — Use our blood in stool and rectal problems Symptom Checker and find out if you need to seek medical help.

What causes rectal bleeding?

There are lots of possible causes for rectal bleeding. Common causes include:

  • hard stools (poo)
  • haemorrhoids (also known as piles), which are often associated with constipation
  • anal fissure (a small tear in the opening of the anus) or fistula (a small channel that develops between the anus and skin)

Less common causes include:

  • colon polyps
  • rectal trauma (for example, an injury caused by accident or sexual assault)
  • stomach or duodenal ulcers
  • infections of the bowel
  • gastroenteritis
  • bowel conditions, such as diverticular disease or bowel cancer, Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • sexually transmitted infections

How is rectal bleeding diagnosed?

Make an appointment to see your doctor if you have rectal bleeding that lasts more than 1 or 2 days, or earlier if the bleeding worries you.

Most people who have rectal bleeding don’t have cancer or another serious illness, but it’s important to have it checked out.

The tests for rectal bleeding depend on your age, symptoms and medical history. Your doctor will talk to you and examine you, and might want to look inside your rectum and bowel. You might also need tests, including:

  • Anoscopy — this is when a small instrument is inserted into your anus to allow your doctor to have a clearer view.
  • Sigmoidoscopy — this is a procedure to look inside of the left, lower part of your colon (large bowel) using a flexible telescope.
  • Colonoscopy — a flexible tube is inserted into the anus to view the inside of the large bowel (the colon).

Some of these tests are done under sedation and anaesthetic. Ask your doctor for more information.

How is rectal bleeding treated?

Treatment will depend on what is causing the rectal bleeding.

For some problems, the treatment could be to make changes to your lifestyle or diet.

Haemorrhoids often settle down quickly after a few days and do not require any special treatment. If your haemorrhoids are causing you pain or discomfort, ask your doctor or chemist about medicated creams or ointments that may ease your symptoms.

If your haemorrhoids keep coming back, you can talk to your doctor about the possibility of surgical treatment.

Treatment for anal fissures can involve botox injections or surgery.

Can I manage or prevent rectal bleeding?

If you have rectal bleeding, there are a number of things you can do to help manage the condition.

If you have constipation causing haemorrhoids, you can help ease it by:

  • drinking plenty of water, unless you have an existing medical condition that means this is not possible
  • eating fibre-rich foods, such as bran cereals, fruit, vegetables and wholegrain bread
  • avoiding processed foods, such as white bread and cheese
  • keeping active and mobile to reduce the risk of getting constipated
  • going to the toilet when you have the urge

If your doctor has confirmed that you have an anal fissure, you can ease the discomfort by:

  • very carefully wiping the anal area after going to the toilet and using soft, moist toilet paper or baby wipes, rather than dry toilet paper
  • pat the area around your bottom rather than rubbing it
  • having warm baths a few times a day
  • seeing your pharmacist for topical creams to reduce the pain
  • making sure you eat a healthy diet with plenty of fibre, and drink plenty of fluids to keep your stool as soft and well-formed as possible
  • try not to strain when passing a stool

Do not apply creams and lotions to the area that were not prescribed by your doctor or pharmacist because this can cause more trauma.

Suspicion of deliberate harm

If there is any suspicion that rectal bleeding is not the result of an anal condition but is due to an injury inflicted on purpose, you should seek help from a healthcare professional as soon as possible. This could be from a nurse or doctor at a hospital emergency department, or a doctor’s surgery, or a health visitor or school nurse.

What to Do If You Spot Blood in Your Poop

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Q: I’ve been noticing blood in my poop. Should I be concerned?

I don’t want to alarm you, but you should have this checked out ASAP. How much blood have you been noticing, and what color? And is it mixed in with the stool or on top? These are details that will help your doctor pinpoint where the bleeding is coming from. If you spot bright red or maroon blood on the surface, you may have an anal fissure (a tiny tear), which can happen from passing large or hard stools. While they can be painful, the cuts are typically nothing to worry about and heal on their own within a few weeks. Anal fissures that don’t get better within six weeks may require medicine or surgery—but that’s pretty rare.

RELATED: Can’t Poop? Here’s Everything You Should Know About Constipation

Blood on your poop, or bleeding during or between bathroom runs, could also be a sign of hemorrhoids, which are swollen veins in your anus or rectum. You can develop them from a variety of causes, including straining when you go, constipation, or pregnancy, when there’s extra pressure on the veins. Often hemorrhoids can be made less troublesome with dietary tweaks, like drinking plenty of water and adding fiber to help soften stools. In the meantime, your doc may suggest using an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to help with the swelling and itchiness.

However, red or darker blood in the toilet or mixed in with the poop might indicate something more serious, such as colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The most common types of IBD are Crohn’s disease, which involves inflammation anywhere in your digestive tract, and ulcerative colitis (UC), in which the inflammation specifically affects the lining of the colon and rectum. IBD can also cause abdominal pain, fever, and weight loss when it flares up. Mild IBD symptoms can often be controlled by medication, combined with avoiding certain foods (including fatty and high-fiber kinds, as well as dairy), eating smaller and more frequent meals, drinking plenty of water, and exercising. In extreme cases, surgery or additional medications may be required.

RELATED: 15 Healthy-Eating Tips for Crohn’s Disease

Those with Crohn’s disease and UC are also at higher risk of developing colon cancer, which is why it’s important to bring up any blood in your number two with your doctor to figure out the reason behind it and start treating it as quickly as possible.

Health’s medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is assistant professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.

Stools with blood can be caused by many different conditions. If you are experiencing bloody stools or bleeding from a bowel movement, you may need to see a doctor.

Seek immediate medical attention if you are experiencing fever, excessive weakness, vomiting, or seeing large amounts of blood in your stool.

What does a bloody stool look like?

  • Red blood mixed with the stool
  • Red blood covering the stool
  • Black or tarry stool
  • Dark blood mixed with the stool

If you stool is red or black, it might not be from blood. Certain foods may cause your stools to look red. These include cranberries, tomatoes, beets, or food that is dyed red. Other foods may cause your stools to look black. These include blueberries, dark leafy vegetables, or black licorice.

Common causes

Blood vessels near the anus that become swollen, due to increased pressure, can bleed or prolapse. Typically, the amount of bleeding from hemorrhoids is small and may be a few drops that appear on toilet paper after passing a stool. Hemorrhoids can occur inside the anus or under the skin around the outside of the anus. The condition is very common, normally painless, and does not lead to cancer.

If bothersome enough, hemorrhoids can be removed by your doctor. Your doctor may first treat any underlying causes, such as constipation.

Anal fissures

Small tears in the lining of the anus, typically from constipation or diarrhea, can cause blood with stools. They are painful during and following bowel movements. If you have anal fissures, take measures to prevent constipation or diarrhea. Over-the-counter fiber supplements can help. Your doctor can prescribe additional options to treat an anal fissure that isn’t healing on its own.

What else could it be?

Your doctor can determine the exact cause of stools with blood. Underlying disorders and complications of this condition can be serious. If you’re concerned, always err on the safe side and see a doctor.

Pay attention to what the blood in your stool looks like.

  • How much blood is there?
  • How often does it occur?
  • What color is the blood?

This will help your doctor zero in on the problem.

Blood in stools can come from any area of the gastrointestinal tract.

This includes

  • Esophagus
  • Stomach
  • Small intestine
  • Large intestine
  • Rectum

If the blood is red it typically means it came from the lower digestive tract or rectum. If the blood is darker or black, it typically means it came from the upper digestive tract. Whether or not the blood is mixed with the stools or covering it, can also help determine where it came from and what is causing it.

Additional causes of stools with blood include

  • Peptic ulcers
  • Gastritis
  • Diverticular disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Colon polyps
  • Intestinal infection
  • Colon cancer
  • Stomach cancer

Your doctor will need to do an evaluation to determine if any of these conditions are the underlying cause.

Tests to find the cause

If you are experiencing stools with blood, your doctor may perform one or more of these tests.

  • Colonoscopy- A small device with a camera is inserted in your colon to look for abnormalities.
  • Upper endoscopy-A small device with a camera is used to look inside the upper digestive tract.
  • Stool culture- A sample of your stools is taken to look for abnormalities.
  • Blood test- A sample of your blood is tested for a number of different potential issues.
  • Capsule endoscopy- A tiny capsule, with a camera inside, is swallowed to take pictures of your digestive track.

All causes of bloody stools should be determined and monitored by your doctor.

Why do I wipe blood after I poop?

A wide range of health conditions and factors can cause or add to rectal bleeding.

Some of the most common causes include:

1. Hemorrhoids

Share on PinterestHemorrhoids are a common and treatable cause of rectal bleeding.

Hemorrhoids are inflamed anal blood vessels, and they are extremely common. They can develop on the outside or inside of the anus, appearing as small bumps that occasionally bleed during bowel movements or when wiping.

Hemorrhoids, which are also referred to as piles, can impact anyone of any age but are associated with a few risk factors, including:

  • pregnancy
  • chronic constipation and straining
  • chronic diarrhea
  • straining during bowel movements or sitting on the toilet for too long
  • obesity
  • low fiber or unbalanced diet
  • aging

Hemorrhoids usually respond well to over-the-counter creams and suppositories that contain hydrocortisone. Taking warm baths frequently, eating a high-fiber diet, and using stool softeners can also help reduce the discomfort of hemorrhoids.

If initial treatments fail, a doctor may perform minor surgery to remove the hemorrhoids.

2. Fistulas

A fistula occurs when an abnormal opening or pocket develops between two neighboring organs. Fistulas that appear between the anus and rectum, or anus and skin, can cause a discharge of white fluid and blood.

Fistulas are sometimes treated with antibiotics, but they may require surgery if they progress.

3. Fissures

Fissures occur when tissues lining the anus, colon, or rectum are torn, resulting in pain and rectal bleeding.

Warm baths, a high-fiber diet, and stool softeners can all help reduce symptoms of fissures. In severe cases, fissures may require prescription creams or surgery.

4. Diverticulitis

Diverticulosis is when small pockets called diverticula develop on the walls of the colon around a weakness in the organ’s muscular layers.

These pockets or diverticula are extremely common. Sometimes diverticula can start bleeding, but this bleeding usually stops on its own.

Usually, these pockets do not cause symptoms or require treatment unless they become infected, which is when a condition called diverticulitis occurs.

Infected and inflamed diverticula are often painful and can cause rectal bleeding, usually a moderate rush of blood that flows for a few seconds.

Diverticulitis is treated with antibiotics and, if severe, surgery.

5. Proctitis or colitis

Proctitis occurs when the tissues that make up the rectum become inflamed, often resulting in pain and bleeding.

Colitis occurs when the tissues lining the colon become inflamed. A type of colitis called ulcerative colitis can also cause ulcers, or open, progressive sores, that are prone to bleeding.

Treatments for proctitis and colitis vary, depending on the causes and range from antibiotics to surgery.

Common causes of proctitis and colitis include:

  • infection
  • some conditions that cause digestive problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s disease
  • some medications, such as blood thinners
  • radiation or chemotherapy
  • anal intercourse
  • reduced blood flow to the colon or rectum
  • a blockage in the colon or rectum

6. Gastroenteritis

Bacterial infections can cause inflammation of the colon and stomach, causing diarrhea that may contain mucus and spots of blood. Viral gastroenteritis does not typically cause bloody diarrhea.

Treatment for gastroenteritis usually involves fluids, rest, and antibiotics or antivirals, depending on the cause.

7. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Unprotected sexual intercourse that involves the anal area can spread a wide range of viral and bacterial diseases. These can cause inflammation of the anus and rectum. Inflammation, if it occurs, increases the likelihood of bleeding.

Treatment for STIs usually involves either an antibiotic, antiviral, or antifungal medication, depending if the cause is bacterial, viral, or fungal.

8. Prolapse

Weakened rectal tissues can allow a portion of the rectum to push forward or bulge outside of the anus, usually resulting in pain and, almost always, bleeding.

Prolapse is more common in older adults than in younger people. Some people with this condition may require surgery to correct it.

9. Polyps

Polyps are noncancerous, abnormal growths. When polyps grow on the lining of the rectum or colon they can cause irritation, inflammation, and minor bleeding.

In many cases, a doctor will remove polyps so they can be tested for signs of cancer and to avoid the risk of them becoming cancerous.

10. Colon or rectal cancer

Cancer that impacts the colon or rectum can cause irritation, inflammation, and bleeding. As many as 48 percent of people with colorectal cancer have experienced rectal bleeding.

Colon cancer is a very common form of cancer and tends to progress slowly, so it is often treatable if caught early.

Rectal cancer, while far rarer than colon cancer, is also usually curable if detected and treated in time.

Some cases of colon and rectal cancer develop from initially benign polyps. All cases of gastrointestinal cancer require treatment, which usually involves a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery.

11. Internal bleeding

Major injury to any of the gastrointestinal organs can result in internal bleeding that passes through the rectum. Severe gastrointestinal disease can also lead to internal bleeding.

Internal bleeding almost always requires hospitalization and surgery.

Asking for a Friend: Why Am I Pooping Blood?

There are few things in life more unsettling than sneaking a peek at your TP after you wipe and seeing blood staring back at you. It’s easy to go into full-on freakout mode if you’re pooping blood, but let’s start with deep breaths first. “Bleeding with bowel movements is never normal, but it doesn’t mean something scary is going on,” says Jean Ashburn, M.D., a colorectal surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic. “The most common reasons are inflamed hemorrhoids and something called an anal fissure, which is like a paper cut that happens in the anal canal.”

Both of these could be the result of excessive pushing during a toilet sesh or a particularly hard poop (pardon our French) passing through. Some non-bathroom-related activities, like schlepping heavy boxes or sitting for long stretches of time, could also cause the hemorrhoidal tissue that lines the anal canal to become inflamed and bleed.

Luckily, there’s a fix. “Both conditions are significantly made better by adding fiber and water to the diet,” Ashburn says. Eating 25 grams of fiber a day, or getting an assist from Metamucil or Benefiber, could clear things up. “It bulks up your stool so it’s not as hard, and it passes much more gently,” Ashburn says.

Hate to say it, but pooping blood is a great reason to visit your doctor. She might recommend you simply adjust your diet, but if the issue goes on for too long and becomes more serious, surgery might be needed as a fix, Ashburn says.

Another reason to give your doc a head’s up: The blood could indicate there’s a more serious issue lurking beneath the surface. “Rarely, but more commonly these days, we’re seeing young people with colon and rectal cancers,” Ashburn says. People under the age of 40 who are diagnosed are more likely to have a family history of colorectal cancer, according to a recent study published in the International Journal of Clinical Oncology. Now, check out these 6 Things You’re Not Telling Your Doc But Should.

  • By Moira Lawler

No one wants to admit to blood in your poo – but it’s something we need to talk about since it could signal something serious. What you need to know…

If there’s one thing we’re embarrassed to talk about, it’s what goes down in the bathroom. If we could, we’d totally hold up the charade that ladies don’t poop at all.

So when something is off – like noticing blood in your stool – the poo taboo can make you want to ignore it. But not talking about it could be dangerous when it comes to your health. That’s because your poop is a window into what’s going on in your gut, says Niket Sonpal, a gastroenterologist and clinical professor of medicine in New York City.

Just keep this in mind: Noticing blood on your toilet paper or in the toilet after you go could be caused by a variety of different things – and heading directly to a medical professional is always the best way to find out what’s what. That being said, Sonpal says some causes are more likely (and less scary) than others.

The colour of the blood can give you a clue as to where the underlying issue might be.

READ MORE: This Is What Happens To Your Body When You Hold In Your Poop


Darker, almost blackish blood typically comes from the upper GI tract (your stomach or oesophagus), which could mean you have an ulcer. Ulcers are fairly common – about 10 percent of people will develop one at some point in their lives. For the majority of cases, treatment is relatively simple. Taking the right medication, reducing stress, cutting out alcohol and stop smoking can all help them heal.


Meanwhile, “seeing bright red or maroon coloured blood is most commonly from a lower GI tract source, meaning the small intestine or colon,” says Sonpal. Hemorrhoids commonly cause bright red blood on toilet paper or in the bowl. “Haemorrhoids are scary because they bleed a lot,” says Sonpal, who suggests fibre-friendly dietary changes as a way to prevent developing them in the first place.

Anal Fissure

Another common cause of bright red blood could be an anal fissure, a tear that can be caused by anything from constipation to childbirth.

However, Sonpal stresses that you should never assume your bleeding is just a hemorrhoid and that you should see your doc for an official diagnosis (don’t be shy – we swear, they’ve seen everything!).

READ MORE: 6 Reasons You’re Pooping A Whole Lot More Than Usual

Colorectal Cancer

In some instances, blood in your stool could mean colorectal cancer. It’s important to note, though, that the amount of blood is often unnoticeable to the regular eye – so the rule of thumb is prevention, prevention, prevention. If you have a history of GI cancers in your family, Sonpal suggests starting regular colonoscopies earlier than the recommended age of 50.

“The bottom line is, blood in the stool is never considered normal,” says Sonpal. So if you notice anything out of the ordinary, get your behind to a doctor right away.

Looking for more info on your bowels? Here’s what the experts say about keeping things ‘regular’, and here’s our easy guide for pooping politely.

This article was originally published on

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