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Passing blood with stools is medically referred to as hematochezia. It is a serious sign that signifies that something is wrong with the digestive system.The origin of the blood coming through rectum or anus can be anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract. Bad eating habits and unhealthy lifestyle can affect the digestive system organs adversely and can lead to digestive system problems like rectal bleeding.

Causes of Blood in Stools

Hemorrhoids: The blood vessels or veins in the anal or rectal area are dilated due to the excessive pressure on the walls of the rectum. Hemorrhoids can even be felt from outside while wiping, or they can be inside and painless too. Chronic constipation is the main common cause of blood in stools. Many women experience rectal bleeding during pregnancy. Iron pills recommended during pregnancy can cause constipation. Stool bulking agents that soften the stool and reduce straining can be used to treat hemorrhoids. Bleeding hemorrhoids can cause bleeding after bowel movement during pregnancy or in normal conditions. During last days of pregnancy, this problem is prominently noticed because of the increasing pressure of the uterus. In normal conditions, surgery is very common means of treating hemorrhoids.

Fistula: A whitish discharge or blood discharge can be caused due to fistula, which is an abnormal burrowing channel, running from the rectum to the skin around the anus. There can be chronic inflammation of other parts of the intestine, known as Crohn's disease, associated with fistula formation. Proper medication and antibiotics can reduce the symptoms and can offer relief. Surgery is required if the symptoms are severe.

Diverticulosis: When balloon like pockets or sacs project from the bowel wall, the condition is known as diverticulosis. The projecting sacs can bleed occasionally. A lot of blood, all at one time is usually noticed in such cases. Surgery is the only remedy for serious diverticulosis. Accumulation of stool in the diverticula can lead to infection and inflammation, resulting in abdominal pain, constipation and fever. The infection can spread to the entire colon, if it is not treated promptly. The condition is called diverticulitis.

Proctitis and Colitis: A number of gastrointestinal disorders can lead to an inflamed and ulcerated inner surface of the colon which can bleed. Ulcerative colitis can be associated with diarrhea, cramps and bleeding. When only rectum is inflamed, it is known as proctitis and when colon is inflamed, it is called colitis. Proper medication and controlled diet is required to treat colitis.

Fissure: Hard stools or chronic diarrhea are the main causes of anal fissures, wherein internal lining of the anal walls is affected and torn. This leads to the open nerve endings and open blood vessels, causing bleeding during bowel movement and bleeding after bowel movement too. High fiber diet and medication can help correct this problem. In severe cases, surgery may be required.

Protrusion of the Rectum: With the advent of age, the tissues which support the rectum become weakened and a part of the rectum can project from the anus which can bleed. The condition is known as rectal prolapse. The effective treatment can be surgery.

Cancer: Usually, the cause of rectal bleeding is minor and can be easily diagnosed. But, sometimes, the underlying cause of bleeding during defecation can be of major concern, like rectal or colon cancer, and therefore, it is important that the specific cause of such bleeding be identified as early as possible. Then only, appropriate treatment can be started and the problem can be corrected. Abnormal but benign growth of the tissue in colon is called 'polyp'. Large polyps can bleed and certain polyps can turn into cancer. Colon cancer can be cured if the warning signs are identified early.

How to Improve Bowel Health

Tests like colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, anoscopy, rectal examination, etc. help detect the cause of blood in stools. Drinking plenty of water, including high fiber foods like whole grain foods, fresh vegetables and fruits in your diet, walking, swimming or performing yoga exercises regularly can help improve the condition. Exercise helps maintain the balance of enzymes and hormones that promote metabolic functions of the body. Those who lead a sedentary lifestyle should exercise regularly. Application of ice or over-the-counter ointment around anus may help relieve burning sensation. Mild rectal bleeding may get cured on its own but if the bleeding is excessive and leading to symptoms of weakness, then you should consult your physician immediately. Excessive smoking and excessive consumption of junk / fast food, alcohol, drugs, etc., can affect the function of the bodily systems. Improving eating habits helps improve bowel health.The most important thing is that when you feel the urge, you should never wait, you should immediately go to the toilet. If you follow these instructions sincerely, you will be able to notice significant improvement in bowel health and also in the overall health, within a couple of weeks.

Disclaimer: This Buzzle article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.