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How can blood in the stool vary?

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Blood in the stool means there is bleeding somewhere in your digestive tract. Sometimes, the amount of blood is so small that it can only be detected by a fecal occult test (which checks for hidden blood in the stool). At other times it may visible on toilet tissue or in the toilet after a bowel movement as bright red blood. Bleeding that happens higher up in the digestive tract may make stool appear black and tarry.

From: Blood in Stool WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES:

MedlinePlus: "Bloody or tarry stools."

Nebraska Colon Cancer Screening Program: "Rectal Bleeding: What You Should Know."

MedlinePlus: "Gastrointestinal fistula."

NYU Langone Medical Center: "Angiodysplasia of the Colon."

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: "Bleeding in the Digestive Tract."

The Ohio State University Medical Center: "Peptic Ulcers."

Reviewed by William Blahd on July 11, 2017

SOURCES:

MedlinePlus: "Bloody or tarry stools."

Nebraska Colon Cancer Screening Program: "Rectal Bleeding: What You Should Know."

MedlinePlus: "Gastrointestinal fistula."

NYU Langone Medical Center: "Angiodysplasia of the Colon."

National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: "Bleeding in the Digestive Tract."

The Ohio State University Medical Center: "Peptic Ulcers."

Reviewed by William Blahd on July 11, 2017

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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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