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Normal stools do not contain blood or mucus. Stools that show signs of mucus or blood may indicate a medical problem. Bright red blood usually occurs from bleeding near the rectum. Bleeding that occurs higher in the digestive system is seen as dark brown or black, or tarry looking. Blood or mucus may be seen in any type of stools.

Bright red blood can sometimes appear as streaks on toilet tissue or as a droop of blood in the toilet. Some causes of this symptom are:
* small splits in the skin called anal fissures
* small growths (rectal polyps) on the inner lining of the colon
* hemorrhoids (swollen veins) in the anal area that also may cause pain, itching, burning, or throbbing and
* cancer of the rectum

Any of these problems can cause difficult and painful bowel movements. A fever or illness with red, bloody stools may be a sign of a more serious problem such as an inflammatory bowel disease, examples such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and dysentery. Inflammatory bowel diseases and infected ulcers can produce mucus or pus in the intestines.

A simple screening test for blood in the stool is a useful method of detecting colon cancer early. The American Cancer Society recommends that this test be done yearly after age 50.

Black, tarry stools can be caused by:
* peptic ulcers
* broken blood vessels in the colon
* overuse of alcohol or aspirin or
* anti blood clotting medications

Seek medical evaluation when bowel movements show signs of blood, mucus, or rectal bleeding. Faintness, sweating, and weakness along with large amounts of blood in the stools needs immediate attention.


Copyright © 1998. HBOC Call Center Group (602) 230-7575.
All rights reserved. Information in this document is subject to change without notice.

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