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Bright Red Blood in the Stool (Haematochezia): What are the Treatment Options?

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Blood in the stool is a concerning symptom that can indicate the presence of an underlying health issue. While it can be alarming to see blood in your stool, it is important to understand that there are many possible causes, some of which are relatively minor and easily treatable, while others may require more extensive work up and intervention. In this article, we will explore the treatment options for blood in the stool.

Treatment for Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are a common cause of blood in stool. They are swollen congested tissue in the anorectal mucosa that can become irritated or inflamed, causing bleeding during bowel movements (especially when stools are hard and dry). Hemorrhoids can be treated with over-the-counter creams or ointments that help to reduce swelling and inflammation. 

In addition, lifestyle changes such as increasing fiber intake and staying hydrated can help to prevent constipation, which can worsen hemorrhoids. In some cases, hemorrhoids may require medical intervention, such as a rubber band ligation or surgical removal.

Treatment for Anal Fissures

Anal fissures are another common cause of blood in stool. They are small tears in the lining of the anus that can cause severe “tearing” pain and bleeding during bowel movements. Anal fissures can be treated with topical creams and ointments that help to reduce pain and promote healing. 

Just like hemorrhoids, lifestyle changes such as increasing fiber intake and staying hydrated can help prevent constipation, which can worsen anal fissures. In some instances, the condition might require medical intervention, such as a surgical procedure to repair the tear.

Treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic condition that causes inflammation in the digestive tract, (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis). Treatment for IBD typically involves a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. 

Medications may include anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressants, and biologic therapies. These treatments have to be prescribed after a consultation with an IBD specialist and long term follow up is necessary. 

In addition, lifestyle changes such as avoiding trigger foods, reducing stress, and getting regular exercise can help to manage symptoms and prevent flare-ups. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove damaged portions of the digestive tract.

Treatment for Colorectal Cancer

Seeing fresh blood in the stool may indicate an underlying malignancy e.g. colorectal cancer although it is not common. Treatment for colorectal cancer typically involves surgery to remove the cancer, followed by chemotherapy or radiation therapy to eradicate any  remaining cancer cells. 

In some cases, targeted therapies may also be used to treat colorectal cancer. Early detection is key to successful treatment, which is why screening for colorectal cancer is recommended for all adults over the age of  (45) 50.

Treatment for Infections

Infections such as salmonella or E. coli can cause blood in stool. Treatment for these infections typically involves antibiotics and supportive care such as staying hydrated and resting. It is important to seek medical attention if you suspect that you have an infection, as untreated infections can lead to serious complications.

Other Conditions

In some cases, blood in stool may be a sign of a more serious underlying condition such as a bleeding disorder or a vascular abnormality in the digestive tract (angiodysplasia). These are usually identified during a colonoscopy. Treatment for these conditions will depend on the specific diagnosis, and may involve medication, lifestyle changes, or surgery.

Prevention

In order to reduce the risk of developing conditions that can cause blood in stool, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating a balanced diet rich in fiber, staying hydrated, and engaging in regular physical activity. It is also important to avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, as these habits can increase the risk of developing digestive tract disorders.

Conclusion

Blood in stool is a concerning symptom that can indicate a variety of underlying health issues. Treatment for blood in stool will depend on the underlying cause, and may involve medication, lifestyle changes, or surgery. 

By maintaining a healthy lifestyle and seeking prompt medical attention when necessary, you can reduce your risk of developing conditions that can cause blood in stool and maintain optimal digestive health. 

If you experience blood in your stool, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment.

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