We admit, nobody likes to talk about it. If you did, you probably wouldn’t have found your way to this blog post. We can only hope you didn’t make the mistake of doing a Google image search on the condition, because you can probably imagine what you’ll find there, and we can assure you it isn’t pretty.
As unsavory a topic as it may be, you’re probably asking, “What does bloody poop mean?” because you’re concerned, either for yourself or someone you care about. And the answer to that query isn’t exactly simple—but—the most common causes of bloody poop aren’t life threatening, so you can take comfort in that fact.
Bloody poop can be caused by any number of conditions. Simply, it indicates that you’re bleeding somewhere in your gastrointestinal tract.
The most common cause of bloody poop is hemorrhoids or anal fissure. Generally you can tell if the blood in the stool is caused by hemorrhoids or anal fissure by the color: the blood is bright red. Rectal bleeding of bright red blood indicates that the blood hasn’t had to travel far before leaving the body, so if you find your bloody poop exhibiting bright red spots or streaks, blood on the toilet paper, or bright red blood in the water, it’s probably one of these conditions causing it.
Less common, but more serious, causes of bloody poop include many forms of colitis, including inflammatory bowel disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome, or ulceration. Other causes may include diverticular disease, angiodysplasia, peptic ulcers, salmonellosis, crohns disease, and e. coli food poisoning. These conditions are generally accompanied by other symptoms, as well as darker blood appearing in the stool.
The most serious conditions with which one might encounter bloody poop are gastric cancer, colorectal cancer, and esophageal varices.
If you’re experiencing a significant amount of bloody poop, alone, or in conjunction with other symptoms, including stomach pain, cramps, difficulty digesting food, and difficulty passing stools, you should seek medical attention from a gastrointestinal specialist in your area. They will be able to tell you if you need a test to rule out anything that may be more serious, or if you simply have symptomatic hemorrhoids.
The best prevention is being an informed patient, so if you find yourself with bloody poop for an extended period, see a doctor. They’ll be best equipped to assure your condition isn’t serious, and if it is, to recommend the right treatment for you.