Performing History and Physical Examination (Blood in Stool)
The very thing that makes most people worry when experiencing blood in stool is the possibility of an underlying cancer. But in fact, it’s not usually the case. Only about 1-2% of cases is associated with cancer. However, precautions is still necessary in order to determine symptoms and identify the exact cause.
There are different instances of blood in stool which vary from mild to severe (can be life threatening) bleeding. An accurate diagnosis of the location of bleeding is important for proper treatment and prevention of further bleeding. The diagnostic process always works hand-in-hand with history check and physical examination.
The color of blood in the stool may appear red, maroon, or even black. Bleeding may sometimes not be visible with the human eye, which is why laboratory procedures will be necessary.
Bleeding may also come from the gut, often abbreviated as GI, Gastrointestinal Tract Bleeding and not just from the rectum. The digestive system starts from the mouth and ends at the anus. The food we eat obviously starts from the mouth downward the esophagus and into the stomach where food starts to break down heavily before passing through the large and small intestines. The large intestine stores the stools (faeces) before it goes to the anus or rectum during bowel movement. Therefore, any bleeding in the digestive system can be added to the food as it’s being processed into waste.
History and physical examination are essential parts of the initial evaluation of gastrointestinal bleeding. Doing series of tests can provide valuable diagnosis and identification of the anatomical source of the bleeding.
There can be instances of dangerously heavy bleeding or unlikely black stools. This is due to bleeding that comes high up the gut. Doctors may initially suspect different causes of the bleeding. Whether it may be a first occurrence or recurrence, it will be documented for future use.
An initial step when performing history check is identifying whether there is blood disorder in the family. The medical disorder may be present in the patient which could have caused the bleeding. Some diseases being identified includes history of liver disease, kidney failure, and diabetes.
A person’s ethnicity is also a factor. For example, sickle cell disease is most common in the black race. The usage of drugs is also determined for it adds to the possibility of bleeding. Moreover, a check on the patient’s hospitalization history, diagnosis, and treatment will always be made.
The age of the patient also offers a clue with regards to the possible cause of bleeding. Moderate to severe bleeding can be seen in teenagers or young adults with Meckel’s diverticulum. In older individuals, it could be due to diverticulosis or angiodysplasias.
During the physical examination, doctors look for physical signs, examining the patient though series of tests. Examination of the patient includes a check on the mouth, the nose, the inner surface of the eyelids, more particularly a check on mucous membranes. The patient will also be examined for paleness and telangiectasia (dilated blood vessels). The patient will be inspected for any rashes, red or purple spots or bruises. The neck, underarm and groin will be felt for any enlargement of lymph nodes. The joints will be examined if are tender or swollen. The abdomen will be checked for spleen or liver enlargement. Furthermore, a rectal examination may be performed to determine the possible causes of bleeding.
The treatment depends on the identified problem. Examination and diagnosis is very important to make sure the patient will not suffer from unnecessary procedures performed that could lead to the delay or risking of the patient’s health.
PS: Hit LIKE to spread awareness that blood in stool does not necessarily or immediately indicate that a person has cancer.
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