Seeing blood in your stool is a frightening experience and might cause you to feel anxious about your digestive wellness. However, passing a bloody stool (called hematochezia) might not always signify a major health concern. A wide variety of conditions may result in having fresh or red blood in the stool. The gastrointestinal (GI) specialists at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates routinely provide care for this issue and can diagnose the source of bloody stools or rectal bleeding in adults and children throughout the New Orleans, LA area.
Do bloody stools mean that I have a GI problem?
Fresh or red blood in the stool indicates that bleeding has occurred somewhere within the digestive tract. Bleeding might happen in any area of the gastrointestinal tract, which starts at the esophagus and ends at the anus. In some cases, rectal bleeding or bloody stools in New Orleans, LA individuals might be a result of minor digestive problems that can be treated easily. But because blood in a bowel movement may also be a symptom of a variety of concerning GI diseases, it is extremely important to see a gastroenterologist right away to identify the source of this symptom.
What causes red blood in the stool?
Although a bloody bowel movement is sometimes totally a benign symptom, it could also indicate a more significant health condition that requires professional care. Bloody stool causes can include:
- Colon cancer
- Gastric cancer
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Anal fissures
When to see a doctor for bloody stools
Any instance of red blood in the stool or rectal bleeding should be evaluated by a GI doctor. Professional care should also be sought if heavy bleeding is noticed or when symptoms, like loose bowels, abdominal discomfort, lightheadedness, lethargy, or other concerns, also arise. The GI doctors at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates can carry out diagnostic procedures to learn at what point within the GI tract the bleeding is occurring. They can also determine bloody stool causes and recommend the appropriate treatment options. Routine procedures performed to examine the source of blood in the stool or rectal bleeding are:
- Stool analysis (fecal tests): These common laboratory tests can detect the presence of hidden (occult) blood in the stool, which could be a sign of cancer of the colon or additional gastrointestinal problems.
- Colonoscopy: Throughout a colonoscopy procedure, a long, flexible scope outfitted with a video camera is utilized to show a live view of the internal structures of the large intestine (colon). GI specialists can use this endoscopic process to visualize conditions within the colon or rectum that may be causing bloody stools or rectal bleeding. Polyps can often be excised during a colonoscopy. Removing colon polyps can decrease the future risk of colon cancer.
- Capsule endoscopy: With a capsule endoscopy, a tiny wireless camera encapsulated in a pill-like device is swallowed. The miniature camera takes and transmits a series of photos of the digestive system as it migrates through the upper gastrointestinal tract and into the small intestine.
- Upper endoscopy: This procedure, also called an upper GI, is conducted by placing a long tube-like camera through the oral cavity and into the digestive tract. An upper endoscopy can help doctors identify whether blood present in the stool might be originating from an issue associated with the throat, esophagus, or stomach, which comprise the upper portion of the GI system.
Get specialty care for GI Conditions in New Orleans, LA
GI health is highly important to your systemic wellness. Any time you notice blood in your stool or have rectal bleeding, it’s essential to consult with a GI physician to pinpoint its cause and help preserve your overall health. To arrange for a consultation with a skilled GI specialist, please contact Metropolitan Gastroenterology Associates in New Orleans, LA today.