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Red stool: causes of red stool or diarrhea

Red stools or red diarrhea do not necessarily indicate blood in stools. Red poop or red diarrhea can indicate several factors. Red stools can occur due to a medical condition or because of what you have eaten. There are several causes that can lead to red stools. Fresh bright red blood in the stool is a common phenomenon that affects about 15% of adults in the past six months. This is usually visible as a line of red blood on your stool or as blood on the toilet paper after wiping your buttocks. Red stools can also be caused by food, for example eating beetroot or beetroot juice. If there is blood in the stool, consult your doctor.

  • What is red stool?
  • Red stool causes
  • Various factors
  • Color of the stool
  • Red stool after beetroot juice
  • Bright red blood through anal fissure
  • Blood on stool due to hemorrhoids
  • Red diarrhea due to gastroenteritis or stomach flu
  • Blood in poop due to stomach ulcer
  • Diverticula in the intestine
  • Colon cancer or colon polyps
  • Colon cancer
  • Intestinal polyps
  • Angiodysplasia: abnormal blood vessels
  • Chronic inflammatory bowel disease

 Red stools and abdominal pain / Source: Andrey Popov/

What is red stool?

‘Red stool’ refers to stool or poop that has a red color. It can have several causes and is often a symptom of an underlying condition.

Red stool causes

Various factors

There are actually several factors that can lead to red stools. Sometimes it is due to what you have eaten, for example beetroot, and sometimes it is due to the presence of blood in the stool. Blood in stool is an indication that you are losing blood somewhere in the digestive tract. Blood in the stool can be dark in color, but there can also be bright red blood on the toilet paper or your poop. In some cases, the presence of blood can only be determined by stool examination. This is called an occult blood test. This is a stool test in which the stool is examined for the presence of traces of (occult) blood, which are not visible to the naked eye.

Color of the stool

The location in the digestive tract from which the blood comes affects the color of the blood in the stool. Black, sticky and tarry poop is called melasma and is caused by bleeding in the esophagus, stomach or small intestine. A bright red color indicates that the blood has only recently been added to the stool (fresh blood in the stool), suggesting that it comes from a location close to the anal area, usually around the anus. Clear blood in the stool means bleeding in the lower intestinal tract, such as the colon or rectum.Dark colored poop due to blueberries / Source: Couleur, Pixabay

Red stool after beetroot juice

Eating beetroot or drinking beetroot juice can lead to red stools. Foods such as licorice, blueberries, red wine, as well as iron supplements and carbon tablets against diarrhea, can cause dark stools.

Bright red blood through anal fissure

An anal fissure is a crack or crack in the anus. It often involves a small but painful cut or tear in the tissue of the mucous membrane of the anus, which can lead to the presence of blood in the stool. It can easily occur in people whose anal sphincter is almost always tight, making it difficult to relax during bowel movements. It can also be caused by constipation, which causes hard stools and straining to cause minor damage to the anus. The tissue damage usually heals within a few days. Because the damage is around the anal area, it is visible as bright red blood in the stool.

Blood on stool due to hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids refers to the swelling of blood vessels in the anus or rectum, which can cause complaints such as pain and itching. Anyone can suffer from hemorrhoids, but it is more common in pregnant women and people between the ages of 45 and 65. In addition to bright red blood in the stool, there may be other symptoms such as pain, redness, swelling and itching around the anus. Most people benefit from basic treatment, such as increased water intake, dietary changes (more dietary fiber), more exercise and the use of hemorrhoid creams.

Red diarrhea due to gastroenteritis or stomach flu

Red diarrhea can be caused by gastroenteritis or stomach flu. Gastroenteritis, also called ‘stomach flu’, is a bacterial or viral infection of the stomach and intestines. It can lead to diarrhea with mucus and blood; described by patients as bloody diarrhea and visible as red diarrhea. Other symptoms include stomach cramps, mild elevation, headache and vomiting. A stomach flu can cause diarrhea or watery stools. Many cases of stomach flu do not require medical treatment, as symptoms usually go away on their own within a few days.Helicobacter pylori / Source: Yutaka Tsutsumi, Wikimedia Commons (CC0)

Blood in poop due to stomach ulcer

A peptic ulcer is the presence of an open sore in the lining of the duodenum (upper part of the small intestine) or stomach. A bacterial infection, caused by Helicobacter pylori, is often the culprit. There are also certain drugs, such as ibuprofen and aspirin, that can cause an ulcer. Symptoms include burning pain, heartburn, nausea, bloating, dark blood in the stool, vomiting and weight loss.

Diverticula in the intestine

Diverticula are benign bulges in the large intestine. Diverticula sometimes cause blood loss and mucus loss from the anus. Most people with diverticula have no obvious symptoms. The most common symptoms are changes in normal bowel habits (diarrhea or constipation), lower abdominal pain, bloating, or blood in the stool.

Colon cancer or colon polyps

Colon cancer

Rectal bleeding is an early symptom of colon cancer. Colon cancer is a condition that affects the colon and rectum. It is also considered a possible cause of blood and mucus in the stool.

Intestinal polyps

Intestinal polyps are growths of the mucous membrane of the large intestine. Colon polyps often remain benign, but sometimes these growths can turn into colon cancer. Possible symptoms include blood in the stool, fatigue, weight loss and abdominal pain.

Angiodysplasia: abnormal blood vessels

Angiodysplasia is an abnormality of a blood vessel, usually in the intestinal wall or the stomach. Angiodysplasia is the presence of fragile, abnormal blood vessels in the gastrointestinal tract that can lead to blood loss. It mainly occurs in older people due to aging and degeneration of the blood vessels. Symptoms may include fatigue, general weakness and shortness of breath due to anemia.

Chronic inflammatory bowel disease

Chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, are characterized by inflammation of the intestinal wall and are associated with mucus and blood in the stool.

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  • Bowel movement problems: black, red and green feces/poo
  • Black stools: causes sticky and tarry poop
  • Blood in feces or feces: symptoms and possible causes
  • Blood in the stool: symptoms, causes and treatment