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Learn about symptoms of problems in the gastrointestinal tract

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Hematochezia causes and treatments. Hematochezia is the medical term for red poop or red stool. Causes for red-colored poop vary from from bleeding in the digestive tract to foods causing hematochezia having red color. If blood is well intermixed with the stool (Hematochezia), or you see blood spots in poop, it is a sign for more concern. Many ulcers cause red and bloody poop. Crohn's disease and Diverticulitis cause Hematochezia symptoms as well. Diets for digestive health and foods that aid digestion and healthy stool. End bloody poop (Hematochezia) by eating dietary fiber and understanding the role of vitamins and minerals in healthy digestion and stool.

Poop and Digestion

Your stools are a sign of how the rest of your body is functioning. Health professionals recommend that you monitor your stools for signs of what is happening inside your body. You may be able to spot early signs of problems or be able to tell whether you are maybe dehydrated or not maintaining a proper diet. Ironically, some abnormality and variation in poop is normal. What is abnormal is any chronic condition that is symptomatic of unhealthy stools.

Normal Poop

Healthy stools tend to have texture that is not too hard and not too soft. They tend to come out in a long and unbroken mass. Their color is brown and they do not float. The normal frequency ranges somewhat widely among different people, but the norm is loosely considered to be between 5-13 times per week.

Unhealthy Poop

Unhealthy stools can come in different forms. If you are dehydrated, the poop may come out in hard, rounded pieces that get broken off as they come out. That can typically be solved by just drinking more fluids, or stopping consumption of alcohol, coffee or other foods and liquids which can make you dehydrated. On the other hand, if your poop is loose, it may be caused by something you have eaten or drank. Diarrhea usually doesn't last for more than a few days. If it does, you may want to consult with a healthcare professional. Furthermore, if you do experience diarrhea, you should be aware that your body is losing excess water with the loose stools and you should replenish your body's fluid storage by drinking more water or non-dehydrating drinks.

Another common symptom of unhealthy digestion is floating poop after defecation.

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Monitoring Defecation

The subject of defecation makes people shy and uneasy, but for the sake of their health, people must get over the awkwardness. As you defecate, every once in a while, glance at the poop in the toilet. As mentioned previously, hard and soft stools can indicate your hydration and dietary fiber levels while the color can indicate what may be happening in your digestive tract. If indeed you have red and bloody stools, you can even get a quick sense of where the bleeding is happening. If the blood seems to be within the stools, it means that the bleeding may have occurred higher up in the digestive tract. If the blood easily merges with the water in the toilet, probably it has not had time to mix in with the stools and the bleeding has occurred somewhere lower in the digestive tract. Additionally, if the color of the blood has darkened and become black, it means that likely the blood had time to decay and the bleeding was higher up in the digestive tract. It the color of the blood is crimson, cherry-red, or bright red which is its normal color from the oxygenated iron in the red blood cells, then it means that the blood is still fresh and the bleeding occurred recently.

Poop Smells

The common smell of stools isn't pleasant. The reason for even the ordinary and healthy stools smelling so bad is the bacteria that is present in the stools. Some foods in a person's diet can make poop smell even worse. Artificially flavored food and liquids, as well as foods that contain many chemicals and preservatives can cause a number of chemical reactions in your body and add to the already foul smell of stools. Eating more natural foods helps people have healthier poop overall, which also helps them to have poop that doesn't smell so bad (or worse than it naturally does).

Healthy Poop

The way you can tell if stool is healthy is by observing the color, consistency, smell, shape, and even whether the poop floats in the toilet. Healthy poop does not smell too foul, is not too hard and not too soft, does not float, and has an elongated shape.

How Often Should You Poop

Most people have bowel movements at least once a day. Of course, we are all different in our diets, metabolism, age, overall health, physical environments and genetics. A good rule of thumb is to monitor your defecation frequency and habits. Be aware of changes. Since your body is used certain metabolic rhythms, even a low or high frequency of bowel movements may be ok since it is what your body is used to. If changes happen, they can be indicators of something that has changed in your body or your life.

False Hematochezia

Not all red stools are hematochezia. There is a large psychological factor in seeing your stools appearing to be bloody. It is a scary sight that can induce a degree of fear and panic. False hematochezia is the condition of having bloody-looking stools where the red substance is not blood. Red food and liquids can cause urine and stools to appear bloody. Various chemicals produced by the body can cause the appearance of blood in stools. Even various metabolic causes can cause an imbalance of certain proteins and other chemicals to be removed as waste by the body through urine and poop, causing the waste material to take on the color of the metabolized substances.

Gas

Whenever there is discussion about digestion, poop and stools, gas and flatulence (or simply farting) must also be discussed. There are many types of gasses in the body. The gas that comes out of our rectum is made up of mostly of Nitrogen which is also the element that makes up most of the air, so it is harmless. The other type of gas released during a fart is carbon dioxide which is a common element in today's western diet and is present in popular carbonated drinks like sodas. Next on the list are gasses like methane and hydrogen.

Just about all the noise associated with flatulence and farting is due to the vibration of the anal sphincter, and occasionally by the closed buttocks. Not all the gasses that happen during digestion come through the rectum. Some gasses come out of our bodies in the form of belching. It is an embarrassing situation to burp or to fart, but there is nothing wrong with releasing nitrogen or carbon dioxide in reasonable amounts. Learn what it means to have excessive gas

Thinking About Digestive Problems

Seeing poop that is unusual shape, size or color can be quite alarming and frightening. If it happens to you, do not panic or scare yourself by imagining the worst case scenario. Instead, think rationally about the situation. Consider whether you have a family or personal history of digestive system problems. Then consider whether the symptom you are currently experiencing is new and just started happening. New symptoms can sometimes go away on their own because their underlying cause may not be anything serious and the underlying cause may simply disappear.

If the symptom begins to be chronic and does not go away after a number of days, depending on the symptom, you may consider seeking the advice of a healthcare professional. The healthcare professional will probably ask you about personal and family history and how recently the symptoms began to appear. If you are experiencing something severe like blood in stools, you may want to seek the advice of a doctor sooner than later. If you are experiencing constipation or diarrhea, these can be treated with change in diet and lifestyle. In case of diarrhea, remember to drink plenty of non-dehydrating liquids in order to keep yourself properly hydrated.

Digestive Health

Many foods and drinks can help increase digestive health. Many people understand the the benefits of dietary fiber, but there are many more foods and nutrients that can help increase digestive health. Even drinking green tea has shown to have digestive benefits and the benefits of drinking green tea for digestive health go back thousands of years to ancient China.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea, in its simplest definition, is just loose and watery stool. It is very common. Most people have had diarrhea at some point from eating bad food, allergic reactions, or other relatively mild causes. Most of the time, the diarrhea goes away on its own and there are no serious long-term effects. Of course, some people experience diarrhea because they have a serious medical problem such as irritable bowel syndrome or other chronic diseases.

There are three types of diarrhea:

  • Osmotic - something in the bowel is drawing water from the body into the bowel. This is often caused by sugars like sorbitol that are present in dietetic candy with sugar substitutes.
  • Secretory - occurs when the body is releasing water into the bowel when it's not supposed to. This occurs in case of infections, drugs, and other some medical conditions.
  • Exudative - diarrhea with presence of blood and pus in the stool. This type of diarrhea is common in inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn's, Ulcerative Colitis, and several infections.

Constipation

Constipation is a condition of having hardened stool that is difficult to pass. Everyone gets constipated at some point in their lives. This condition is usually not serious. If it lasts for a few days, it may be a concern.

Digestive Disorders

  • Ulcerative Colitis - a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the large intestine (colon) and rectum
  • Thrombosed hemorrhoids - condition when normally-occurring blood-filled sacs that cushion the passage of stool through the anal canal become stretched and enlarged, causing pain and sometimes bleeding
  • Portal Hypertension - an increase in the pressure within a certain important vain that carries blood from digestive organs to the liver. That vein is called the "portal vein." This causes the body to create other veins to act as re-routers of the blood from the organs to the liver since the original vein is blocked. Portal hypertension is the process of the original vein becoming blocked and the forming of new problematic veins that can become fragile and can bleed easily, resulting in bloody stool and other digestive problems
  • Meckel Diverticulum - is characterized by a small bulge or a pouch in the small intestine present at birth
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome - disorder of the lower intestinal tract. It involves abdominal pain and abnormal bowel movements
  • Intussusception - rare but serious disorder in which part of either the small intestine or colon collapses into another part of the intestine, causing blockage along the digestive tract and preventing food, fluid or blood from passing through
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) - a group of disorders in which the intestines become inflamed (red and swollen) such as Crohn's disease and Ulcerative colitis, which causes inflammation in the digestive tract
  • Heartburn - a burning sensation in the chest that can extend to the neck, throat, and face. It is the primary symptom of gastroesophageal reflux, which is the movement of stomach acid into the esophagus
  • Chronic Liver Disease - gradual destruction of liver tissue over time, encompassing several liver diseases such as Fibrosis of the liver and Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Diverticulosis - condition where small pouches (diverticula) develop along the digestive tract, become inflamed and bulge in and outward of the walls of the passages
  • Crohn's Disease - an ongoing disorder that causes inflammation of the digestive tract, most commonly affecting the lower part of the small intestine, called the ileum
  • Colon Polyps - raised or flat growths on the surface of the colon (large intestine)

Digestive Symptoms

  • Abdominal bloating - can be caused by gas, overeating, food allergies, or a number of digestive problems such as Crohns, Ulcerative Colitis or many other GI disorders
  • Jaundice (also known as icterus) - the yellowish pigmentation of the skin and the whites of the eyes due increased levels of bilirubin in the blood that could result from a number of problems

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