It can be unsettling to find blood and mucous in your stools. Here’s what this symptom can mean.
It’s never pleasant to find blood and mucous in your stools and you’re understandably concerned if you’ve never experienced this symptom before. There are a variety of medical conditions that can cause this symptom ranging from simple hemorrhoids to more serious diseases such as colon cancer. Blood and mucous in stools is a symptom that should always be checked out by a doctor, particularly if you’ve never experienced it before. What causes this symptom?
Although a small amount of mucous in the stool isn’t necessarily abnormal, if you have both blood and mucous in stools or a large amount of mucous, it’s a symptom that needs medical attention. Although a small amount of blood on the toilet paper can be caused by a small cut or fissure from a hard bowel movement, this is unlikely to be the cause if mucous is also present. Hemorrhoids are also a frequent cause of bleeding from the rectum and may be associated with a small amount of mucous, although the presence of large amounts of mucous isn’t common with simple hemorrhoids.
Other conditions that can cause blood and mucous in stools include inflammatory bowel disease and colon or rectal cancer. Blood and mucous is common with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s and Ulcerative colitis. You may also have abdominal discomfort, weight loss, and general fatigue with either of these two conditions.
Colon and rectal cancer can also present with blood and mucous in stools and can give rise to a variety of other symptoms such as weight loss, changes in the appearance or frequency of bowel movements, and abdominal discomfort. Occasionally a condition called diverticulosis where you have pockets along the intestinal wall that rupture and bleed can cause blood in the stool, although mucous is less common.
If you develop sudden onset of blood and mucous in the stools along with fever and abdominal discomfort you may have a temporary inflammation in the colon walls due to a viral or bacterial infection. This can usually be diagnosed on the basis of symptoms as well as a stool culture.
The bottom line? This is a symptom that needs to be evaluated by a doctor. If there’s a question of inflammatory bowel disease or colon cancer, your doctor will probably recommend a colonoscopy to visualize areas of inflammation or malignant polyps. If the symptoms arose suddenly and it appears to be due to an infection, you may be treated with antibiotics which will usually clear the infection in five to seven days if a bacteria is the cause. If you’ve noticed blood and mucous in stools, don’t dismiss it as being due to hemorrhoids, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible.