Stool changes depending on what you have eaten or if you have suffered from any illness, such as food poisoning, gastroenteritis, influenza or Delhi belly. On average, you are supposed to pass solid stool with no mucus or blood. Anytime you see blood in your stool, you should notify your physician.
Normal stool is medium in size and the color of plain cardboard. You should not have to strain for it to exit the body and it should cause very little discomfort or pain. The consistency should be like toothpaste and it should be about 4 to 8 inches long. Normal stool does not have blood or mucus in it.
Bright red blood comes from your rectum. It can appear as drops in the toilet, a smudge on tissue or as a streak on the stool. Causes of bright red blood in the stool are anal fissures (small tears in the skin around the anus), rectal polyps (small growths lining the inside of the colon), cancer of the rectum or hemorrhoids. Symptoms of hemorrhoids are itching, pain, burning and throbbing.
Bleeding can also appear dark brown, black or tarry. Peptic ulcers, overuse of alcohol, overuse of aspirin, broken blood vessel in the colon or use of anti-blood clotting medications can cause stools of these colors.
In addition to the bleeding and mucus, you may also feel pain when passing a bowel movement and you may feel feverish. Fever and a general feeling of illness may be symptoms of serious conditions such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or dysentery. These are inflammatory bowel diseases. It is important to have yourself checked out by a physcian if you have any of these symptoms, as inflammatory bowel disease can produce mucus and pus in your intestines. Colon cancer can also be detected if your bowels are screened.
If you notice dark blood in your stool, call your physician immediately. Never try to diagnose these problems yourself. When seeking medical help, make sure you have the names of all medications you are on, and any medical conditions you may be suffering from.
If you have symptoms such as fainting, weakness, sweating or large amounts of blood in your stool seek emergency care immediately.