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Blood in the stool: the causes, when to worry and the tests to do to understand the origin of the bleeding. The most suitable treatments based on the diagnosis of the expert.
The presence of blood in the stool often leads us to alarm; one is easily led to think of a tumor! However, it is not always the case, the causes may be less serious such as hemorrhoids. In any case, the presence of blood in the stool is a symptom that should never be underestimated! It is always good to investigate thoroughly, to exclude the most serious pathologies so as to allow an immediate diagnosis.
Blood in the stool, causes
As already mentioned, hemorrhoids are among the most common causes. The bright red blood found in the stool is caused by bleeding from hemorrhoids
The traces of bright red blood in the feces are also due to other, more or less serious, pathologies. Here are some of them:
- Colorectal cancer
- Anus tumor
- Stomach cancer
- Anal fistulas
- inflammation of the intestinal tract
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn's disease
- Intestinal polyps
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Peptic ulcer
- Kidney failure, etc.
Blood in the stool, tests
It is therefore clear that the causes can be multiple, so it is necessary to consult a specialist and provide every detail to identify the cause.
The color of the blood in the stool is also an important detail! For example: if black and tarry blood is found, it could indicate an ulcer or other disorder to be located in the upper area of the digestive tract. Bright red blood in brown stools can lead to a disorder in the lower digestive tract; we are talking about hemorrhoids or anal fissures.
After providing all the information, the doctor will prescribe specific tests to be done to understand the cause of the bleeding in the stool.
Caution: Blood in the stool may be visible to the naked eye or detected after a specific laboratory test known as a fecal occult blood test.
It is good practice to perform this test annually for purely preventive purposes since the statistics on intestinal tumors are quite alarming.
How to do the occult blood test at home
You do not necessarily have to go to the hospital to perform this test. Even from home we can examine a stool sample; just buy a dedicated kit, easily available in pharmacies or on Amazon if you prefer to buy online. For all the information, I refer you to the official Amazon page: Test kit
The test to be done at home is of the immunochromatographic type; exploits the action of particular antibodies to detect blood. There is no need to do any special diet before the exam. However, it is advisable to repeat the test at least 3/4 times in a week; obviously on different samples, since the loss of blood does not always occur constantly.
It should be noted that the positivity on the test (the normal value foresees the absence of blood) has no diagnostic value since it can be an indication of several different pathologies. Therefore, if you find traces of blood in your stool, the first thing to do is to shed some light on the causes!
Tests to be done if blood is found in the stool
Among the clinical tests to be performed in case of a positive fecal occult blood test we find:
- colonoscopy; an exam that allows you to visually examine the colon walls
- gastroscopy: examination that allows you to visually explore the upper digestive tract, ie the esophagus, stomach and duodenum
- Tumor markers: for example CA 125, CA 15.3, CA 19.9 and CEA
Blood in the stool, cure
Depending on the cause of the problem, action is taken: it can vary from the use of topical products to the administration of drugs to surgery.
Just to be more detailed:
- Antacids: in case of gastritis, ulcer or esophagitis
- Antibiotics or pesticides: in case of infections
- Anti-inflammatory: in case of inflammatory diseases
- Surgery: in case of neoplasms, angiodysplasia, or rectal-anal pathology
Treatment is associated with the administration of iron, in case of anemic state, with low iron deposits.