Constipation, diarrhea, and bloody stool are all common symptoms for an array of gastrointestinal conditions, including:
It should be noted that these could also be symptoms of other conditions not related to the digestive system, such as hormonal imbalances or antibiotics.
Constipation is a term used to describe a change in bowel habits where patients find it difficult to pass stool, may notice a frequent need to strain, or have the sensation that bowels are not empty. Constipation is a common problem that can either occur suddenly or chronically. If diagnosed as chronic, treatment for this condition becomes dependent upon treating the underlying cause.
If it’s sudden, conditions that may cause constipation include:
If making adjustments to diet and lifestyle have failed to relieve constipation, a physician may recommend the following treatments:
Diarrhea is a condition in which loose and watery stools happen frequently and may be accompanied by abdominal cramps. Diarrhea that occurs suddenly (acute) may be the result of the following conditions:
Chronic diarrhea is defined as loose, watery stool that lingers for a period exceeding approximately three weeks and may be a sign of a more serious problem, such as a malabsorption disorder, inflammatory bowel disease, or chronic infection.
In most cases, the goal of treatment is to simply stop the diarrhea. In other cases, the underlying cause needs to be determined and managed prior to treatment.
Treatments may include:
Bloody stool is generally an indication that there is a bleed somewhere within the digestive tract (anywhere between the mouth and the rectum). Bleeding can be found after using the bathroom or during what is known as a fecal occult test (a test used to determine the presence of microscopic or invisible blood in feces).
The blood in the stool may vary in color. The color of the stool is typically an indication of where the bleed is occurring: the further up the digestive tract the bleed is, the darker and more vicious the excreted blood becomes.
Bloody stool can be attributed to conditions, such as:
In order to effectively treat bloody stool, the cause of the bleed must first be treated. To stop acute bleeding, an endoscopy may be performed to find the source of the bleed. Treatments may include:
Once the bleeding has stopped, a physician may recommend:
Learn more about all things digestive health and wellness by checking out our recent gastroenterology blogs.
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