Blood in the stool can be caused by a number of different conditions. Patients will often complain of blood on the tissue paper or in the toilet bowl, not necessarily mixed in with stool; this is often caused by hemorrhoids that have been irritated with straining or constipation. However, there are other more serious conditions to consider. One common problem in the adult population is called diverticulosis; this refers to small outpouchings of the colon wall. Sometimes these outpouchings erode a bordering blood vessel, causing painless bleeding. While these bleeding episodes usually resolve on their own, they often do not and can cause significant blood loss. Other patients with bloody stool may be diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's Disease. These conditions may be associated with abdominal pain, weight loss
, and other systemic symptoms such as arthritis or inflammation of the eyes. If your symptoms persist, then you should see your primary care physician
. With a more accurate history and physical exam, your physician will be able to recommend further treatment or referral to a gastroenterologist
for further work-up if needed.