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There's Bright Red Blood in My Stool

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Updated: July 5, 2008

I am 17 years old, relatively active (meaning I go to the gym 3-4 times a week), and more often than not I am strictly eating vegetables. Sometimes when I go to the bathroom, I feel a sharp pain and sometimes I find little traces of pink on the toilet paper. Starting this week, I noticed bright red blood in my stool. Not a whole lot, but just in one part of the poop. The minute I noticed it, I became very concerned that it could be colon cancer. But, I realize that this is one possibility among some others.

I told my mother about it and she told me to make sure I keep an eye on it and let her know. She thinks I may not be getting enough fiber, which I guess is also possible. I've noticed it for three days now and so I was wondering if you had any suggestions of what I should do. My best friend said it could be hemorrhoids, but it doesn't hurt for me to sit down at all. I'm really scared and so anything right now would help me.

You were right. The bright red blood in your stool could be caused by a bunch of different things. Constipation is a common cause. For example, you can tear the tissue around your anus by passing a large stool, effectively giving yourself a cut. (Think of it like giving birth. That hole is only accustomed to getting so big.) It takes time for that cut to heal and until it does, it bleeds.

Your friend's idea of hemorrhoids was a good one, too. Hemorrhoids can be internal or external and are often caused by struggling when trying to defecate. You can't always feel them, and they don't always hurt when you sit.

Also, and this one's kind of weird, it's possible to eat things that will cause bright red blood in the stool. For example, if you eat sunflower seeds in the shell, and chew up the entire seed (along with the shell), your body has trouble breaking that down. Your stool can end up being scratchy, so that defecating is like giving birth to a sandpaper baby. Not fun.

You did the right thing in telling your mother and confiding in your best friend. Now, I'd say the best thing to do is to consult a doctor; this symptom should always be brought to the attention of a medical professional. I think it's great that you're surrounded by people you can comfortably talk to about this. Such open communication will serve you well in life. Best of luck to you!

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Please remember that I am not a medical professional. I offer my input as a neighbor, a friend, sitting at the kitchen table talking about what's on your mind and trying to help if I can. This is not medical advice. Please don't consider it medical advice or pass it on to others as medical advice. Thanks.

Sources:

Bleeding in the Digestive Tract. National Digestive Diseases Clearinghouse. Nov. 2004. Accessed 5 Jul. 2008 [http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/bleeding/index.htm].

Blood in Stool. American Cancer Society. 7 Apr. 2008. Accessed 5 Jul. 2008 [http://www.cancer.org/docroot/MBC/content/MBC_2_3x_Blood_in_Stool.asp?sitearea=MBC].

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