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Jones Regional Medical Center Urgent Care - Anamosa

1795 Highway 64 East
Anamosa, IA 52205

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1055 Southwest Oralabor Road
Ankeny, IA 50023

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5185 Competition Drive
Bettendorf, IA 52722

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180 Jordan Creek Pkwy
West Des Moines, IA 50266

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153 Collins Road Northeast
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Marshalltown)

1704 South Center Street
Marshalltown, IA 50158

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (North Crossing)

2134 Logan Avenue
Waterloo, IA 50703

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Peck's Landing)

1940 Blairs Ferry Rd.
Hiawatha, IA 52233

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Peoria)

8914 North Knoxville Avenue
Peoria, IL 61615

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (San Marnan)

1655 East San Marnan Drive
Waterloo, IA 50702

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Viking Road)

1000 Brandilynn Blvd
Cedar Falls, IA 50613

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Washington)

209 North Cummings Lane
Washington, IL 61571

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Waukee)

950 E Hickman Rd
Waukee, IA 50263

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express (Waverly)

101 Cedar River Pkwy 101
Waverly, IA 50677

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UnityPoint Clinic - Express at Duck Creek

1417 Kimberly Road
Bettendorf, IA 52722

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UnityPoint Clinic Express (Fort Dodge)

2728 2nd Avenue South
Fort Dodge, IA 50501

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UnityPoint Clinic Express Care - Bettendorf

3415 53rd Avenue
Bettendorf, IA 52722

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UnityPoint Clinic Express Care - Moline

106 19th Avenue
Moline, IL 61265

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UnityPoint Clinic Express Care - North Port

3426 North Port Drive
Muscatine, IA 52761

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3904 16th Street
Moline, IL 61265

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1120 East War Memorial Drive
Peoria Heights, IL 61616

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2720 8th Street Southwest
Altoona, IA 50009

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3625 North Ankeny Boulevard
Ankeny, IA 50023

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2103 Ingersoll Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50312

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2992 7th Avenue
Marion, IA 52302

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Marketplace

3035 Hamilton Boulevard
Sioux City, IA 51104

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Merle Hay

4020 Merle Hay Road
Des Moines, IA 50310

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Southglen

6520 Southeast 14th Street
Des Moines, IA 50320

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Sunnybrook

5885 Sunnybrook Drive
Sioux City, IA 51106

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Urbandale

5200 NW 100th Street
Urbandale, IA 50322

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - West

2255 John F Kennedy Road
Dubuque, IA 52002

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UnityPoint Clinic Urgent Care - Westside

2375 Edgewood Road Southwest
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

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Blood in Stool: What Does it Mean?

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Blood in Stool: What Does it Mean?

Whether you discover blood after wiping or from a fecal test ordered by your doctor, finding blood in your stool can be scary. While bloody stool can be a symptom associated with several serious medical conditions, this usually isn’t the case. Regardless, if you find blood in your stool you should seek advice from a health care provider to determine the cause and treatment options.

What are the Causes of Blood in Stool?

Bloody stool is a sign that there is bleeding somewhere along the digestive tract. The blood can range in color from bright red to maroon, and it can even appear tarry and black if the bleeding is occurring higher up in the digestive tract.

Some of the more common, less-serious causes of bloody stool include:

  • Hemorrhoids – Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels found in the rectum or anus that can be itchy, painful and sometimes bleed. Those who suffer from hemorrhoids may notice bright red blood either in the toilet or coating the stool after a bowel movement.
  • Anal Fissures – An anal fissure is a small tear in the lining of the anus, which can cause bleeding and the sensation of ripping, tearing or burning after a bowel movement.
  • Peptic Ulcers – A peptic ulcer is an open sore in the lining of the stomach, upper end of the small intestine or duodenum caused by a bacterial infection.
  • Food poisoning – In addition to other issues, several foodborne organisms can cause bloody stool. A stool sample can help identify which bacteria you have been exposed to and how to treat the infection.

Other more serious causes of blood in stool include:

  • Crohn’s disease – Crohn’s disease causes inflammation of the digestive tract lining and can lead to severe diarrhea and abdominal pain.
  • Colon Polyps – Colon polyps are benign growths, or clumps of cells, that form along the lining of the colon. Although usually harmless, colon polyps can grow, bleed and become cancerous.
  • Cancer – Blood in stool can be a symptom of cancer along the digestive tract. Colon cancer and anal cancer are two types that can cause bleeding; sometimes not noticeable to the naked eye to more severe bleeding.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Because bloody stool can be a sign of a serious medical condition, it is suggested that anyone who notices blood in his or her stool speak with a physician to determine if further examination and treatment is needed. In addition, regular screenings, such as fecal occult tests and colonoscopies, are recommended for everyone above the age of 50 to help detect more serious digestive issues.

Treatment for Blood in Stool

Most patients only pass from a few drops to a spoonful of blood in their stool, which is referred to as mild rectal bleeding. Usually, mild rectal bleeding can be evaluated and treated in the doctor’s office and does not require urgent treatment or hospitalization.

In other cases, patients report repeatedly passing larger quantities of blood that may be accompanied by blood clots. This moderate to severe rectal bleeding can deplete blood supply, causing weakness, low blood pressure, dizziness or fainting. Moderate to severe rectal bleeding often requires evaluation and treatment in the hospital.

Forms of additional evaluation include:

  • Fecal Occult Blood Test – This is a lab test to check for blood in the stool. If blood is detected, additional tests will be used to help determine the source of the bleeding.
  • Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) – If you experience rectal bleeding, your physician may perform a digital rectal examination to find the source of the bleeding. To perform a DRE, your doctor will put on a latex glove and insert a lubricated finger into the rectum to feel for growths and other abnormalities.
  • Anoscopy or Proctoscopy – An anoscopy or proctoscopy may be done in conjunction with a DRE to inspect the anus and lower rectum. A lubricated instrument that has a light on the end is inserted into the rectum so the physician can examine the area. A proctoscopy uses a slightly longer instrument than an anoscope, so an enema or laxative will likely be suggested before the procedure is done. 
  • Sigmoidoscopy – To examine the colon and remove small growths, a sigmoidoscopy may be suggested. During this procedure, a lighted tube is inserted through the anus. Patients will need to receive an enema or laxative to empty the colon before the test is done.
  • Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) – During this procedure, an endoscope, or flexible tube with a small camera on the end, is inserted through the mouth and down the esophagus to the stomach and duodenum. Your physician can use this to look for the source of the bleeding and may also be used to collect small tissue samples for further testing.
  • Colonoscopy – If you doctor needs to examine the entire colon, a colonoscopy will likely be completed. This procedure is similar to an EGD except the scope is inserted through the rectum to view and take samples of the colon. The prep for a colonoscopy requires an empty colon, so your doctor may request an enema, laxative and/or special diet before the exam.
Depending on the results of examination, treatment can include medication, such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs, to surgery. Other treatment may involve simple things you can do on your own, such as adding more fiber to your diet, sitting in warm baths or avoiding certain foods that trigger your symptoms.

If you do experience moderate to severe rectal bleeding, your physician may refer you to a gastroenterologist. The gastroenterology team of physicians and health care professionals at UnityPoint Clinic work together to provide a coordinated care approach in order to achieve the best outcome for every patient. If you find yourself needing an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders involving the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, liver, gallbladder or pancreas, trust the gastroenterologists at UnityPoint Clinic.