Lots of medical conditions can cause blood to appear in a person's stool. They range from the very minor to the very serious, and can include:
A black stool usually means that the blood is coming from the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract (GI). Passing bright red blood usually suggests that the blood is coming from the large bowel or the rectum.
The ingestion of black licorice, iron pills, or blueberries can all cause black stools.
We will limit this article, for the moment, to bright red blood in the stool.
Usually, bright red blood in the stool comes from a tear in the tissues of the rectum, or from hemorrhoids (also sometimes spelled 'hemroids'), and would normally be combined with constipation, straining to have a bowel movement, and the consequent bleeding from the rectal tissue or hemorrhoids.
According to the National Institutes of Health, about 50% of the United States population over 50 have hemorrhoids.
If you see bright red blood in your stools, it's probably hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are the most common source of bleeding from the rectum and the anus. However, if the bleeding lasts for more than a couple of days, you should have an exam.
Most people in the United States, if you looked into their toilets, would have "sinkers" rather than "floaters". In other words, if your diet and digestion are proper, the stool will float in the toilet water, will be soft but well-formed (not watery), will be light in color, and will not have a foul smell. How many people do you suppose have proper stool? The National Institute of Health estimates that about 50% of the United States population over 50 have hemorrhoids, which means that even more have problems with their stools. The most common reason for poor stool would be the lack of fiber in the diet and the excessive use of processed foods , particularly sugar and bread.
If your stool is dark, sinks in the water, and if you have to strain to eliminate, you are a candidate for constipation, and then for bloody stool.
This is a simple problem to fix, but seldom will people get serious enough about doing anything to solve this problem. Instead they wait until it is much too late and then ask their doctor for a remedy.
What are the symptoms of hemorrhoids? Symptoms of hemorrhoids may include painful swelling or a lump in the anus which can bleed and become inflamed, often causing discomfort and itching. There may also be bright red blood on the toilet paper or the stool.
Common hemorrhoids are often triggered by the straining which accompanies chronic constipation. Therefore, to treat hemorrhoids we must focus on overcoming constipation.
An increase in dietary fiber in combination with an increased intake of water helps people with hemorrhoids.
Double-blind trials showed that 7 grams of psyllium , an herb high in fiber, taken 3 times daily reduced the pain and bleeding associated with hemorrhoids.(1) Psyllium has many benefits for health and is discussed in more details here .
Topically applied astringent herbs have also been used traditionally as a treatment for hemorrhoids. A leading astringent herb for topical use is witch hazel, which is typically applied to hemorrhoids 3 or 4 times per day in an ointment base. In my opinion, the best price on the internet for witch hazel can be found here .
Horse chestnut extracts have been shown in a double-blind trial to reduce symptoms of hemorrhoids.(2) The lowest price on the internet for horse chestnut extracts in my opinion can be found here .
(1). Moesgaard F, Nielsen ML, Hansen JB, Knudsen JT. High-fiber diet reduces bleeding and pain in patients with hemorrhoids. Dis Colon Rectum 1982;25:4546.
(2). Nini G, Di Cicco CO. Controlled clinical evaluation of a new anti-hemorrhoid drug, using a completely randomized experimental plan. Clin Ther 1978;86:54559
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