Red Poop - Should I Worry?

Have you discovered red poop and now you are worried? This happened to me too but before you get too stressed read here about the many innocent things that can cause your poop to turn red.

You are probably asking yourself " why is my poop red ?" and " what does it mean when your poop is red ?"

First off it is easy to assume that you are bleeding and this might be the case but there are other less worrying things that can cause you to have reddish brown poop or your stools to have a red color or to have red flecks in them.

Certain foodstuffs can be to blame. Think back over the last few days and remember what you have been eating. Has your diet included any of these red hoaxers?

Foods That Can Cause Red Poop

Watermelon

Red Poop - Watermelon

The pulp of watermelon will often pass through the intestines without much change and can appear distributed through your stools giving them a red mottled appearance. Too much can cause diarrhea. Other fruits which can cause a red color are cranberries, papaya and dragon fruit (pitaya).

Tomato Juice

Tomato Juice

If you have a Bloody Mary or just a straight tomato juice then this can be the cause of the color change that you see. This can also apply to tomato soups and sauces.

Chorizo

Chorizo

Chorizo that lovely Spanish sausage that is becoming more and more popular in many parts of the world can give you red poop due to the high levels of paprika in the recipe. Other recipes using lots of paprika can also cause this effect.

Bell Peppers

Red Poop - Peppers

Red vegetables such as bell peppers, tomato skins and red kidney beans will not cause a complete color change in your stools but you may see flecks of red.

Food Coloring

Red Food Coloring - Jell-o

Many foods containing red food dye can turn your stools red. These include red liquorice, Kool-Aid, Mountain Dew (Code Red), red celebration cakes, red Jell-o (jelly), and red popsicles (ice lollies).

Beets

Red Poop - Beets

Beets or beetroot as us Brits say is well known for causing a red coloration of the stools.

For many people the cause of their red poop will be one of the innocent things above or other red foodstuffs and they do not have to worry. Just monitor what is going on and check that your stools return to their normal color.

How long this takes will vary from one person to another. If you normally have a quick transit time and have a bowel movement or two every day then the color will return to normal more quickly than if you only open your bowels every few days.

Seeing food particles and color in the poop is more common in babies and young children as their intestines are immature and so will have a harder time breaking down some foods.

Of course occasionally the red color that you see will be caused by bleeding and you should seek medical attention. Read on to find out what can cause you to bleed and what to do about it. 

I Have Blood in my Stools Should I Worry?

If you think that you have seen blood when you have a bowel movement then this could be caused by many different things. In most cases the cause of the bleeding can be cured or controlled but it is important to find out the source of the bleeding.  Possible causes include:

  • Hemorrhoids (piles)
  • Anal Fissure (tear in the opening through which stools pass)
  • Anal Fistula (a channel which develops between the back passage and the skin near the anus)
  • Gastroenteritis (infection in the bowel)
  • Angiodysplasia (enlarged blood vessels in the colon)
  • Polyps (these small growths in the colon can be a precursor to cancer)
  • Rectal Cancer (cancer of the back passage)
  • Too much anti-coagulant medication (this can cause internal bleeding)

There are other rarer causes of bleeding but basically all bleeding should be investigated straight away. If the amount of blood is large then you should hurry to the emergency room straight away.

When you see blood that is red this indicates that it is fresh and normally means that it comes from lower down in the gut. Very occasionally bleeding from higher up will still be red if it is massive and rapid but this is very rare. The medical term for stools with fresh blood is hematochezia (the 'che' part is pronounced like the word 'key').

If the blood is only on the toilet paper then this indicates that the blood may be coming from the rectal or anal area; so the blood could be from hemorrhoids or a fissure which is like a little tear in the anus.

If it coats or is mixed in with the stool then this indicates that it is coming from the back passage or the large intestine. Sometimes you will only be aware of blood because the water in the toilet bowl will turn red.

When we see red poop we are worried that we could have cancer and of course we should get any hematochezia checked out quickly to rule this out but as you can see there are many other red poop causes!

For more information see this article about causes and tests when you see blood after a bowel movement.

My Story

When I visited the bathroom and saw that I had red spots on the toilet paper I knew that because the blood did not appear to be actually in my stools (yes I did have a close up look by opening my bowels onto a thick pad of toilet paper so that I could see better) probably it was not cancer. However, although the site of the blood led me to believe that it was probably caused by hemorrhoids or a small tear or a fistula (a small channel often left behind after an abscess) I knew it was important to get it checked out.

My family doctor sent me to see a specialist and I had a CT scan and a colonoscopy which luckily for me were clear and I found out that my bleeding was caused by hemorrhoids.

It is worrying if you discover red poop or red poo as we say here but in many cases it is something that can be dealt with or in lots of cases it is not even blood that is causing the red color.

If you suspect that you are bleeding do not do what many people do and think that you will deal with it by ignoring it. If you do turn out to have a cancer your chances of beating it are very good if you get it diagnosed quickly.

DiarrheaNurse sympathizes with you if you have this worrying sign and hopes that this information has been useful. If you are in any doubt and particularly if you have more signs and symptoms or feel ill then you should always see a doctor.

We have been talking about red poop but if your poop is darker and more of a black or maroon color then please see this information on black poop causes and more information about it on this page black stool - should I be worried?

Blood in Poop - Don't Panic

Find out about what can cause you to see blood when you go to the bathroom and which investigations you might need.

Go to Blood in Poop - Don't Panic


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