ZocdocAnswersI have had blood in stool, bloating and diarrhea. Could it be a serious digestive disorder or just an allergy?

Question

I have had blood in stool, bloating and diarrhea. Could it be a serious digestive disorder or just an allergy?

I know off the bat I should see a doctor but I have no health insurance at the moment and can't afford it, if I knew it was urgent I'd go regardless though. I have had bright blood/bloody mucus ON my stool for the past 6 months; sometimes there's just blood/gas. I have also had diarrhea several times a week (which has become more frequent lately) along with gas, bloating and fatigue, but have had no pain at all. Does this sound like a gluten allergy perhaps or something far more serious and urgent since it has been so long and there has been blood that long?

Answer

Your symptoms are concerning and you are correct in that you should see a doctor for further consultation as soon as you can. Chronic diarrhea with bloody and mucousy stool is very concerning for inflammatory bowel disease, specifically ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune condition in which the colon becomes very inflamed. The inflammation can lead to ulcers anywhere from the cecum (the first part of the colon) to the anus. These ulcers can be very painful and cause significant discomfort or cramping; sometimes patients only complain of mild bloating. The ulcers can also bleed and, over time, can lead to significant anemia (low red blood cell counts) which can cause serious fatigue. Gluten allergy (or celiac disease) is another autoimmune condition in which the small intestine becomes inflamed in the setting of ingesting gluten. This condition can present with abdominal cramping and bloating and diarrhea, but is not associated with bloody bowel movements. Anemia can develop over time but this is due to malabsorption of nutrients like iron. Given the frank blood that you are passing, concern for ulcerative colitis is higher and you should see your primary care physician or a gastroenterologist for further consultation. Given the time course and the description of your symptoms, your doctor will likely do a colonoscopy to take a look a the inside of the colon, assess the degree of inflammation, take biopsies, and then come up with a treatment plan based on all of the information. Please speak with your doctor.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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