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Learn about your red stool, including causes, treatment options and remedies. Or get a personalized analysis of your red stool from our A.I. health assistant. At Buoy, we build tools that help you know what’s wrong right now and how to get the right care.

Red Stool Checker

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Your Red Stool May Also be Known as:
Bloody poop
Bloody stool
Red poop

Red Stool Symptoms

While everyone's frequency of bathroom trips varies, there are a few things that should remain constant. Variances in stool shades is to be expected based on your individual diet but red stool symptoms can be concerning.

Every incident of red stool should be taken seriously. Causes can be simple and treatable, like hemorrhoids, or signal a more serious condition that requires medical intervention.

If you're experiencing red stools, any of the following associated red stool symptoms could be ailing you as well.

Generally, bright red blood found sitting in the toilet bowl or on toilet paper is a sign of an issue in the lower rectum or anus. But blood that is mixed in with stool signals a problem higher up in the bowel.

Stool can have a bright red color, but more common colors are maroon and black. Stool can also have a tarry appearance. In some cases, blood isn't noticeable at all, even though it's present. This is classified as occult blood and only detected by stool tests.

If the cause is higher in the bowel, it is usually more serious but not always dangerous. Read more in our red stool causes section to determine how concerned you should be about your red stool.

Red Stool Causes Overview

Red stool should never be ignored. But not all causes are considered a medical emergency. You'll find a variety of red stool causes in our list, most which shouldn't cause alarm.

Diet:

  • Foods: Processed foods are filled with dyes. Eating something heavy in red dye can affect the color of your stool. Eating an excess of red foods, like beets, can also alter stool's shade. A diet lacking in fiber can lead to straining and consequently, red stool symptoms.

Infections:

  • Viral: If the health of your digestive system is attacked by a virus, the nature and color of your stool can be one of the first symptoms. Rotavirus is one example. Children who receive the Rotavirus vaccine can experience red stool as a side effect. Always speak to your child's pediatrician immediately if they experience this.
  • Bacterial: E. coli is a common bacterial infection that causes an intestinal infection. While it affects everyone to different degrees, red stool is one possible symptom.

Trauma:

  • Rectal trauma: Anal fissures are one example of trauma that can cause red stool. A tear in the lining of the lower rectum can bleed during bowel movements and cause red stool.
  • Internal bleeding: If there is blood anywhere in the digestive tract, it can result in red stool. One example is a Mallory-Weiss tear, or a tear in the mucous membrane of the esophagus.

Medical:

  • Medications: Bismuth, the active ingredient in Pepto-Bismol, can alter the color of stool. The darker shade can be mistaken for red stool.
  • Diseases: There are a wide range of diseases that list red stool as a possible symptom. Everything from hemorrhoids to Crohn's disease to cancer can cause changes to stool. If there is no obvious reason behind your red stool, seek medical help in finding a diagnosis as there are serious potential causes.

There are several tests that may be conducted to determine your cause of red stool symptoms if it's not obvious such as:

  • Full medical history and physical exam including a rectal exam
  • Testing stool for occult blood
  • Endoscopy to view the esophagus and stomach to check for bleeding sources
  • Colonoscopy to check for bleeding sources in the colon and rectum
  • Barium x-ray to check the digestive tract

Top 4 Red Stool Causes

  1. 1.Colonic Neoplasm

    Colonic neoplasm is a disorder of the large intestine. It often causes abdominal pain, cramping, changes in bowel habits, and fatigue.

    You schedule a visit with your primary care physician (PCP). It is likely an endoscopy will be performed to examine the inside of the colon as well as blood tests.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, stomach bloating, stool changes, diarrhea, constipation
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor
  2. 2.New Onset Crohn's Disease

    Crohn's disease is a disorder caused by chronic inflammation in the digestive tract. The damaging inflammation causes abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition.

    You should schedule an appointment with your primary care physician within a few days to start diagnostic tests and discuss if a referral to a specialist is needed.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, constipation, abdominal cramps (stomach cramps)
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

    Red Stool Checker

    Take a quiz to find out why you’re having red stool.

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  3. 3.Crohn's Disease Flare

    Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammation of the digestive system. It is one of a group of diseases called inflammatory bowel disease. Crohn's can affect any area from the mouth to the anus, and may cause diarrhea and weight loss.

    You should speak with your primary care physician and/or gastroenterologist as soon as possible to determine if you have a flare.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    fatigue, nausea, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps (stomach cramps)
    Urgency:
    In-person visit
  4. 4.Immune Thrombocytopenia

    Platelets are tiny cells in the blood that help form blood clots and seal minor cuts and wounds. Immune thrombocytopenia, also known as immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), is a condition where there are not enough platelets in the blood, causing easy bruising and tiny reddish purple dots on the skin from bleeding under the surface.

    You should visit your primary care physician to determine the severity of your ITP, and plan a course of treatment if needed. Treatment is focused on raising the platelet count to prevent excessive bleeding.

    Rarity:
    Rare
    Top Symptoms:
    being severely ill, rectal bleeding, red stool, unexplained/excessive bleeding from cuts or wounds, pink/blood-tinged urine
    Symptoms that always occur with immune thrombocytopenia:
    being severely ill
    Urgency:
    Primary care doctor

Red Stool Treatments and Relief

If your red stool is caused by a manageable trauma or treatable infection, there normally isn't a reason to schedule a doctor's appointment.

If you notice any of the following red stool symptoms, seek medical attention.

  • Disorientation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Fever higher than 101°F
  • Severe stomach discomfort
  • Vomiting blood

Unless you've been diagnosed with a serious cause for your red stool symptoms, treatment at home will mainly focus on prevention.

The following red stool treatments should help prevent further instances.

  • High fiber diet: Fiber is the ideal treatment for irregular bowel movements that could be behind your red stool. Add more whole-wheat flour, beans, and vegetables to your diet. Minimizing constipation will help hemorrhoids quiet down.
  • Sitz baths: A sitz bath can provide immediate relief if there is rectal trauma. Just sitting in warm water is enough to relieve pain or itching.
  • Probiotics: Probiotics in general can help support a healthy digestive system. But if you suffer from an inflammatory bowel disease, one study showed that certain probiotics can decrease episodes of rectal bleeding.
  • Hemorrhoid cream: Topical treatment with cream or ointment can relieve the discomfort of hemorrhoids.

Seeing red stool can be scary. If your health is otherwise normal, there is likely a cause behind your red stool that is treatable and not considered dangerous. But when there doesn't seem to be a probable cause, medical tests and treatments can get the problem under wraps. Never ignore red stool but don't panic too.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Red Stool

  • Q.Any fever today or during the last week?
  • Q.Have you been feeling more tired than usual, lethargic or fatigued despite sleeping a normal amount?
  • Q.Have you experienced any nausea?
  • Q.Have you lost your appetite recently?

If you've answered yes to one or more of these questions, check our red stool symptom checker.

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Red Stool Symptom Checker Statistics

  • People who have experienced red stool have also experienced:

    • 13% Abdominal Pain (Stomach Ache)
    • 9% Rectal Bleeding
    • 6% Nausea
  • People who have experienced red stool were most often matched with:

    • 11% New Onset Crohn's Disease
    • 7% Colonic Neoplasm

Red Stool Checker

Take a quiz to find out why you’re having red stool.

Take a quiz