Bloody Diarrhea

By McBratney, Susan PhD
By Spader, Catherine RN

What is bloody diarrhea?

Bloody diarrhea is a potentially critical condition in which there is blood mixed in with loose, watery stools. The blood can arise from anywhere along your digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. Bloody diarrhea is often a sign of gastrointestinal bleeding due to injury or disease. Diarrhea that contains bright red or maroon-colored blood may be referred to as hematochezia, while melena is used to describe black, tarry, and smelly diarrhea. Bloody diarrhea may also be referred to as dysentery, which is usually caused by a bacterial infection.

Bloody diarrhea can occur in all age groups and populations. Depending on the cause, it can last for a short time (acute) and disappear relatively quickly, such as when it is due to a gastrointestinal infection. Bloody diarrhea can also recur over a longer period of time (chronic), such as when it is due to inflammatory bowel disease.

Bloody diarrhea is a potentially life-threatening condition that should be evaluated in a medical setting. If you are also dizzy, weak, and vomiting blood, you should seek immediate medical care in an emergency setting.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with bloody diarrhea?

Depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition, bloody diarrhea may occur with other symptoms including:

CAUSES

What causes bloody diarrhea?

Bloody diarrhea can indicate a relatively mild condition, such as a hemorrhoid or anal fissure, or it can be caused by a life-threatening condition, such as ruptured esophageal varices or bleeding peptic ulcer.

In children, bloody diarrhea is most commonly due to a bacterial infection and inflammation i... Read more about bloody diarrheacauses

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Jul 31, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Digestive System, Ulcerative Colitis

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