Blood in the stool typically means an individual is bleeding somewhere in their digestive system. The occurrence can be frightening and anxiety provoking. Signs of bleeding may include seeing it on toilet paper upon wiping after a bowel movement, on the outside of a bowel movement, in the toilet water after a bowel movement, or on an occult blood test ordered by a healthcare provider. The color can range from bright red to dark maroon to dark black. The etiology of blood in the stool can range from benign (noncancerous) to malignant (cancerous).
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Hemorrhoids represent swollen and inflamed veins in the anus and lower rectum. They can be caused by a variety of factors including straining during bowel movements, obesity, pregnancy, prolonged sitting, chronic constipation, and a low-fiber diet. Hemorrhoids can be internal or external. Internal hemorrhoids are located above the rectum and are typically painless. External hemorrhoids occur under the skin around the anus and can be exquisitely painful. Damage to the delicate surface of a hemorrhoid may cause it to bleed.
Signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids may include blood in the stool, itching or irritation in the anal region, and a painful swelling or lump around the anus. The Mayo Clinic estimates just about 50-percent of adults have experienced hemorrhoid symptoms by the age of 50. Mild hemorrhoid symptoms are typically treated with over-the-counter agents. Severe hemorrhoid symptoms may require medical procedures such as removal of the hemorrhoid, rubber band ligation, sclerotherapy, laser therapy, or stapling.