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Black stools: causes and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Black stools, or melena, are a sign of upper gastrointestinal bleeding, one that includes the esophagus, stomach and duodenum, in addition, it can also be due to bleeding in the small intestine (although it is rare) or in the first parts of the colon (ascending and transverse). Blood takes on a black color because it has undergone a process of digestion throughout the digestive tract, which has increased the presence of iron. When the stool has deposits of fresh blood, that is, that which is red, it is called hematochezia and occurs due to a hemorrhage in the lower digestive tract: the small intestine, colon or rectum, something that frequently occurs with hematemesis, that is, of I vomit with blood. At FastlyHealwe inform you more about black hair or stools and their causes.

Causes of black stools

There are many reasons that can explain the presence of blood in the stool. From bleeding present in the upper digestive tract -esophagus, stomach, duodenum-, to bleeding in the small intestine and right colon. The most frequent causes are ulcers, especially those of duodenal origin. If bloody stools are present along with bloody vomit , the main causes are:

  • Bleeding in the esophagus may be due mainly to esophageal variceal veins (secondary to portal hypertension) or the Mallory-Weiss tear, a consequence of repetitive trauma to the esophagus, such as constant coughing or vomiting.
  • In the stomach, bleeding can be due to gastric ulcers or gastric cancer.
  • In the duodenum, the main reason is duodenal ulcers.

For more information on black stools with vomiting blood you can visit the following article on hematemesis: causes and treatment of vomiting blood .

If the stool is bloodless in the vomit , the most likely causes are:

  • Polyps in the right colon : A polyp is a growth in the normal tissue that lines the lumen of the large intestine. Since the stool is not yet firm at this point and remains liquid, polyps usually do not hurt unless they are large. If the polyp detaches or breaks slightly, it can bleed and that can cause black stools. In the following article you will find all the information about colon polyps .
  • Intestinal diverticula : These are small pouches that form in the small or large intestine (colon). Occasionally they can fill with stool and cause inflammation and bleeding called diverticulitis . Diverticula have a high frequency in patients over 60 years of age.
  • Colorectal cancer : In some presentations, the cancer can ulcerate and bleed.
  • Angiodysplasia : refers to the presence of dilated and fragile blood vessels in the colon. These lesions are generally multiple and involve the initial part of the right colon. This disease is closely related to aging, which is why it is generally present in older adults.

Diagnosis of tarry stools

To be sure that there is bleeding in the stool, the so-called guaiac test is used . It does not require many previous preparations, just taking a stool sample is enough, it is advisable not to eat meats that are not cooked enough, as they can give false positives.

Depending on the suspected site of origin, an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy may be performed if bleeding in the esophagus, stomach, or duodenum is suspected, or a colonoscopy, if bleeding in the right colon is suspected. If bleeding is suspected to occur in the small intestine, a capsule endoscopy can be performed ; a small camera that takes random pictures of everything that happens in the digestive tract.

Treatment for blood in stool

Since the causes are very diverse, the treatment is too. Primarily there must be a transfusion of plasma or whole blood to regain the lost blood volume. Your doctor should give you all the necessary information about the treatment of choice.

  • Esophageal variceal veins are treated by endoscopy.
  • Ulcers with medications.
  • Polyps and diverticula through surgery.
  • Cancer through surgery, chemotherapy, and / or radiation therapy.

Recommendations to avoid black stools

  • If you use Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) you have to reduce their use as soon as possible, the use of this drug has been associated with a greater susceptibility to bleeding from the upper digestive tract.
  • Decrease alcohol consumption. Alcohol has been found to be a major irritant that can increase the risk of bleeding.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Black feces: causes , we recommend that you enter our Digestive System category .

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