Bloody Diarrhea

Abdomen | Gastroenterology | Bloody Diarrhea (Symptom)


Bloody diarrhea is a potentially critical condition characterized by blood mixed in with loose and watery stools. The blood can result from anywhere in the digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus.

Depending on the cause, it can last for a short time and be 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, called chronic, such as when it is due to inflammatory bowel.


Commonly, bloody diarrhea is symptom of gastrointestinal bleeding caused by 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.

Causes of bloody diarrhea related to the gastrointestinal tract include: anal fisure, blood vessel malformation, bowel ischemia or bowel obstruction, colon cancer, constipation, hemorrhoid, intestinal infection (food poisoning), intestinal polyps or intestinal tumor, rectal prolapse. Bloody diarrhea can also be caused by medication side effects or radiation therapy.

Depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition, bloody diarrhea may occur with other symptoms including: abdominal pain or cramping, abdominal swelling or bloating, body aches, fatigue, fecal incontinence, nausea, poor appetite, rectal bleeding and pain, vomiting. 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.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The goal of the treatment implies treatment of the underlying disease and involves medication and specific diet.