Constipation, Diarrhea and Bloody Stool

About constipation, diarrhea and bloody stool

Constipation, diarrhea and bloody stool are all common indicators of numerous gastrointestinal conditions such as:

These may also be symptoms of other diseases not related to the gastrointestinal tract and its functions.

Understanding constipation, diarrhea and bloody stool

Constipation

Normally categorized as having fewer than three bowel movements per week, constipation is the difficult passage of stool, which becomes hard and dry after moving too slowly through the digestive tract. It is a common condition that can occur acutely or chronically. When diagnosed as chronic, treatment becomes dependent on treating the underlying cause.

Chronic constipation may be caused by issues including:

  • Blockages in the colon or rectum
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Issues with the nerves throughout the colon rectum
  • Problems with pelvic muscles

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is loose and watery stools that happen more frequently than usual and may be accompanied by abdominal cramps. An acute case of diarrhea only lasts for a few days, whereas chronic diarrhea lingers for a period exceeding three weeks. Chronic diarrhea may also be an indication of a more serious disorder.

Acute diarrhea is generally caused by a bacterial, parasitic or viral infection but may also be caused by:

  • Antacids with magnesium
  • Antibiotics
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Cancer medications
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Food intolerances
  • Fructose intolerance

Bloody stool

Bloody stool suggests a bleed somewhere in the digestive tract, which begins at the mouth and ends at the rectum. While in some cases blood in the stool may only be detected through a procedure known as a fecal occult test, other times it may be visible after wiping or in the toilet.

The blood may also vary on color depending on where the bleeding is occurring; the higher in the digestive tract the blood is, the darker and thicker the blood excreted becomes.

Bloody stool may be the result of conditions such as:

Treating constipation, diarrhea and bloody stool

Constipation

Recommendations to relieve constipation may include:

  • Increasing fiber intake
  • Exercise
  • Not ignoring bowel movement urges
  • Fiber supplements
  • Stimulants
  • Osmotics
  • Lubricants
  • Stool softeners
  • Prescribed medications that draw water into the intestines
  • Surgery (only an option in the case of anal fissures, rectocele or anal strictures)

Diarrhea

Suggested treatments for diarrhea may include:

  • Adjusting current medications
  • Antibiotics to treat bacterial or parasitic infections causing diarrhea
  • Fluid and mineral replenishment by mouth or intravenously (IV)

Bloody Stool

In order to effectively treat bloody stool, the condition causing it must be treated.

To stop acute bleeding, an endoscopy may be performed to locate the bleed and inject chemicals, treat the bleed with a laser or apply a band or clip. An angiography may also be done to inject medicines into the blood vessels to control the bleed.

Once the immediate bleeding has been stopped, treatments to prevent future bleeding may include:

  • Acid suppressing medications
  • Anti-inflammatory medications for colitis
  • Antibiotics to treat infections
  • Eating a high-fiber diet
  • Surgery to remove a portion of the colon damaged by diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease or cancer

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