What GI Conditions Can Cause Bloody Stools?


Noticing blood in a bowel movement is, understandably, frightening and might cause you to be worried about your physical health. However, bowel movement blood (known as hematochezia) might not always point to a significant medical problem. A number of conditions may result in having dark, maroon, or bright red bloody stools. The gastrointestinal (GI) specialists at Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology proudly serve patients throughout the Indianapolis, IN area and can determine the cause of GI bleeding among individuals of all ages.

What could having red blood in my stool indicate?

Fresh or red blood in the stool means that bleeding has occurred at some point along the digestive system. Bleeding may occur in any area of the GI tract, which starts at the esophagus and ends at the anus. In some instances, gastrointestinal bleeding or blood in the stool can be a result of minor GI issues that are addressed easily. But since rectal bleeding or bloody stools may also be evidence of several significant health conditions, it's essential to consult with a gastroenterologist right away to confirm what is causing this symptom.

Common causes of bloody stools

Though red blood in the stool can be totally benign in nature, it could also indicate a more complex health issue among Indianapolis, IN patients and should never be ignored. Bloody stool causes can include:

  1. Cancer of the colon

  2. Gastric cancer

  3. Crohn’s disease

  4. Ulcerative colitis

  5. Anal fissures

  6. Hemorrhoids

Should I consult a GI specialist about blood in the stool?

Any instances of dark or fresh blood in stools that persist should be assessed by a gastrointestinal specialist. Proper care should be sought if heavy bleeding occurs or when symptoms, such as loose bowel movements, abdominal cramps, extremely low energy, lightheadedness, or other concerns, are also experienced. The physicians at Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology can conduct testing to understand where within the digestive system the bleeding is originating. In addition, they can identify the causes of blood in the stool and decide whether treatment is required. Common procedures to diagnose the condition causing blood in the stool or rectal bleeding include:

  • Stool cultures (fecal tests): These types of lab tests can detect the presence of hidden (occult) blood in the stool, which could be a sign of cancer of the colon or additional GI conditions.

  • Colonoscopy: Throughout the process of a colonoscopy, a long, flexible scope fitted with a state-of-the-art camera is used to provide a live view of the inner colon (large intestine). GI specialists recommend this endoscopic process to screen for conditions within the colon or rectum that could be the reason for rectal bleeding or red blood in the stool. Polyps can also be removed during a colonoscopy procedure. The removal of colon polyps can aid in decreasing the risk of colon cancer.

  • Upper endoscopy: Frequently referred to as an upper GI, an upper endoscopy involves the insertion of a thin scope that houses a tiny camera through the oral cavity and into the gastrointestinal tract. As a diagnostic procedure, it can help identify whether the blood in the stool may be originating from a condition impacting the throat, esophagus, or stomach, which comprise the upper part of the gastrointestinal system.

  • Capsule endoscopy: With capsule endoscopy, a wireless camera contained within a small capsule is swallowed, in the same fashion as an oral pill. The advanced camera takes and transmits pictures of the various areas of the digestive system as it migrates along the upper GI system and the small intestine.

Specialty care for GI conditions in Indianapolis, IN

GI health is a very important part of your systemic health. If you find any indication of blood in your stool after having a bowel movement, it is critical to consult with a gastrointestinal doctor to pinpoint the cause and help improve your health. Please contact Indianapolis Gastroenterology and Hepatology in Indianapolis, IN to schedule an appointment with an experienced gastroenterologist.