Laxatives: Clots And Dark Blood?

can laxatives make you bleed clots and dark red blood

Blood in stool can be alarming, but it is not always a cause for concern. The colour of the blood can indicate where the bleeding is coming from. Bright red blood usually indicates bleeding in the lower part of the colon, rectum, or anus, whereas dark red or maroon blood suggests bleeding higher up in the colon or small intestine. Black, tarry stools, on the other hand, often point to bleeding in the stomach.

There are many potential causes of blood in the stool, ranging from benign conditions like hemorrhoids and anal fissures to more serious issues like inflammatory bowel disease, diverticular disease, and even cancer. Laxatives, which are often used to treat constipation, can also lead to bleeding. In a study of patients with atrial fibrillation and heart failure, it was found that constipation requiring laxatives was associated with a higher risk of major bleeding. This may be due to the straining associated with constipation, which can cause an increase in intrathoracic pressure and damage to blood vessels.

It is important to consult a healthcare provider if you notice blood in your stool, especially if it persists for more than a few days, is accompanied by pain or other symptoms, or if you are unsure of the cause. They can help determine the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment.

Characteristics Values
Laxatives cause bleeding Unlikely, but can cause constipation which may lead to bleeding
Bleeding clots and dark red blood Indicates bleeding in the higher part of the colon or small intestine

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Laxatives and constipation

Laxatives are medicines that can help you have a bowel movement if you're constipated. They work by softening hard stools or stimulating your bowels to get moving. Laxatives are typically used to treat occasional or short-term constipation and are available in various forms, including pills, capsules, liquids, suppositories, and enemas.

Constipation is characterised by symptoms such as straining during bowel movements, a feeling of incomplete evacuation, and fewer than three bowel movements per week. It can usually be relieved by lifestyle changes such as increasing fibre and fluid intake, taking probiotics, and exercising regularly. However, if these changes do not help, laxatives may be considered.

Laxatives come in different types, including bulk-forming laxatives, osmotics, stool softeners, lubricants, and stimulants. Bulk-forming laxatives, also known as fibre supplements, add soluble fibre to the stool, making it bigger and softer. This stimulates the colon to contract and push out the stool. Osmotic laxatives, such as polyethylene glycol and magnesium hydroxide solution, pull water from other body parts into the colon, softening the stool. Stool softeners, like Colace, increase the water and fat absorbed by the stool, making it softer. Lubricant laxatives, which include mineral oil, coat the colon, preventing water absorption from the stool and making it slippery and easier to pass. Stimulant laxatives, such as bisacodyl and senna, activate the nerves controlling the colon muscles, forcing the colon into motion.

While laxatives can be effective in treating constipation, they should be used with caution. They are typically recommended for short-term use and can cause side effects such as bloating, gas, and stomach cramps. It is important to follow the instructions on the medication to reduce the risk of side effects and prevent overdose. Additionally, laxatives do not treat the underlying cause of constipation and can delay diagnosis if there is an underlying condition. Therefore, it is essential to contact a healthcare provider if constipation persists or if there are concerns about taking laxatives.

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Laxatives and hemorrhoids

Constipation is one of the leading symptoms of hemorrhoids. Laxatives can help with constipation by encouraging more regular bowel movements, thus preventing hemorrhoids from worsening. However, laxatives are also habit-forming and may create a dependency, which can, in turn, worsen constipation. This is because frequent consumption of laxatives may cause the veins of the rectum and anus to bruise and swell, making them vulnerable to infection and inflammation. Therefore, laxatives should only be used as a last resort if lifestyle changes, such as increasing fibre intake and fluid consumption, have failed to provide relief.

Bulk-forming laxatives and stool softeners are the safest types of laxatives for treating constipation associated with hemorrhoids. Bulk-forming laxatives, which can be natural (e.g. psyllium) or synthetic (e.g. methylcellulose), absorb water into the stool to form a softer and bulkier stool that is easier to eliminate. Stool softeners work by increasing the moisture content of the stool, making it softer and reducing the need to strain during bowel movements. Stimulant laxatives, on the other hand, should be avoided as they can damage the lining of the intestines.

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Laxatives and heart conditions

Laxatives are often used to treat constipation, which is defined as hard, dry, and small bowel movements that are difficult to pass and occur less than three times a week. Recent research has indicated a possible link between constipation and heart disease, specifically coronary heart disease and ischemic stroke.

Constipation and Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

People who experience constipation or use laxatives may be more likely to be exposed to risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD). This includes factors such as diabetes, perceived mental stress, depression, and physical inactivity. As a result, constipation could be considered a marker of exposure to CVD risk factors.

Laxative Use and Cardiovascular Mortality

The use of laxatives has been associated with a higher risk of mortality from coronary heart disease and ischemic stroke in both men and women. This association remained significant even after adjusting for potential confounding factors and excluding deaths that occurred early in the study. Therefore, laxative use could be considered a risk factor for mortality from these cardiovascular diseases.

Dehydration and Ischemic Diseases

One possible explanation for the link between laxative use and ischemic diseases is dehydration. Some laxatives work by preventing the gut from absorbing water, which can lead to dehydration. This can be particularly true for men, as they are more likely to experience frequent diarrhea when using laxatives.

Gut Flora and Atherosclerosis

Another potential mechanism is the impact of laxatives on gut flora. Chronic use of certain laxatives can destroy gut flora, leading to chronic inflammation and the development of atherosclerosis. This can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as coronary heart disease and stroke.

Serotonin and Vasoconstriction

Some laxatives increase the formation of serotonin, which can cause vasoconstriction and increase smooth muscle cell aggregation. This can lead to a higher risk of mortality from ischemic diseases through the vasoconstrictive effect of serotonin.

Laxatives and Autonomic Dysfunction

The use of laxatives may also be a marker of autonomic dysfunction, which is associated with several disorders, including constipation, depression, hypertension, and diabetes. Autonomic dysfunction can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, and the use of laxatives may be a useful tool to predict future CVD events.

In conclusion, while constipation may be a marker of exposure to CVD risk factors, laxative use could be considered a risk factor for mortality from coronary heart disease and ischemic stroke. Therefore, it is important to carefully monitor individuals who use laxatives and take steps to avoid straining during bowel movements.

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Laxatives and drug interactions

The use of laxatives is widespread in North American hospitals and long-term care facilities. While the occasional use of a laxative is not harmful, the daily use of these drugs may be detrimental to your health due to their side effects and potential drug interactions. There are 223 drugs known to interact with Dulcolax Laxative (bisacodyl), 224 with Gentle Laxative (bisacodyl), and 4 disease interactions for both. Most of these interactions are moderate, with only one being minor.

Some of the most frequently checked interactions with Dulcolax Laxative include:

  • Tylenol (acetaminophen)
  • Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)
  • MiraLAX (polyethylene glycol 3350)

Some of the most frequently checked interactions with Gentle Laxative include:

  • Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
  • Tylenol (acetaminophen)
  • Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)
  • Fish Oil (omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids)

The disease interactions for both laxatives include:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Intestinal obstruction disorders
  • Acute surgical abdomen

It is important to consult your healthcare provider before starting or stopping any medication, including laxatives, to avoid potential drug interactions and side effects.

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Laxatives and diet

Laxatives are medicines for constipation, usually recommended by doctors only when you have problems passing stool. They are intended to be used after you have tried other methods to alleviate constipation, such as eating more fibre, exercising regularly, and drinking more water.

There are five types of laxatives, each acting on your intestines in different ways:

Bulk-forming Laxatives

These add soluble fibre to your stool. Soluble fibre breaks down easily in water and becomes a gel, helping your colon hold onto water. This softens your stool and makes it easier to pass.

Stool Softeners

These help mix water into the stool so that it becomes soft enough to pass.

Lubricant Laxatives

Lubricant laxatives coat your stool and make it slippery so that it can pass out easily. These are sometimes called glycerine suppositories.

Stimulant Laxatives

These make the muscles in your intestines squeeze and move the stool along. Stimulants can be harsh on your body and may cause cramping.

Osmotic Laxatives

Osmotic laxatives pull water from the rest of your body into your bowel and help it hold onto water. This softens your stool and helps you pass it easily.

Diet and Laxatives

While laxatives can be helpful in treating constipation, they should not be used as a weight-loss method. Using laxatives for weight loss can be dangerous and lead to dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, constipation, and damage to your intestines.

A healthy diet, regular exercise, and staying hydrated are recommended to prevent constipation and maintain digestive health. Increasing your fibre intake and consuming natural laxatives, such as chia seeds, berries, legumes, flaxseeds, leafy greens, apples, prunes, and kiwis, can help improve digestive health and relieve constipation.

It is important to note that rectal bleeding, including blood clots and dark red blood, can be a symptom of various conditions, some of which may be serious. If you experience rectal bleeding, it is advisable to consult a healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment.

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Frequently asked questions

Blood in stool can appear in different colours depending on where it's coming from. Bright red blood means you're bleeding in the lower part of your colon, rectum, or anus. Dark red or brown blood means you're bleeding in the higher part of your colon or in your small intestine. Black (aka melena) means you're bleeding in your stomach, for instance, from a stomach ulcer.

You should see a doctor if:

- You've had blood in your stool for over 3 weeks.

- You have a lot of pain in your bottom.

- You have pain or a lump in your stomach.

- You have heavy bleeding.

- Your poop has been softer, thinner, or longer than normal for 3 weeks.

- You have no idea why you're bleeding.

- You have bleeding along with fever, chills, fainting, weakness, or vomiting.

Blood in stool means there's bleeding somewhere in your digestive tract. The most common cause is hemorrhoids, which are swollen veins inside your bottom that sometimes cause the skin in that area to break and bleed. Other causes include anal fissures, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), diverticular disease, and certain medications such as anticoagulants and laxatives.

After taking your medical history and performing a physical exam, your doctor may order tests such as a nasogastric lavage, esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), colonoscopy, or barium X-ray to determine the cause of the bleeding.

Treatment depends on the underlying cause. For less serious cases, such as constipation, hemorrhoids, or anal fissures, home remedies like a high-fibre diet, sitz baths, and over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream can help. For more serious cases, treatment may include medications or surgery.

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