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What causes black tarry stool?

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Posted on Mon, 15 May 2017
Question: 46 year old male, black tarry stool for about 2 weeks. Some bleeding yesterday with bowel movement. Tonight a lot of blood. My stomach has been a little swollen for about a month. Attributed it to age. Only weight about 150. 5'11". My wife thinks I should go to emergency room tonight. I told her I would go to my regular doctor in the morning.
doctor
Answered by Dr. Ramesh Kumar (44 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
Go to the emergency room or general surgeon as soon as possible.

Detailed Answer:
Hi there,
Thanks for choosing this forum for your query.
Black tarry stools can be due to a number of causes. However a stool test for occult blood should be done initially to make it clear if its blood or not.Your age is just 46 so swelling in abdomen or any other problem should not be because of age.

There are many causes ranging from harmless illness to life-threatening disease conditions which can cause bleeding with stools. Usually the blood will be bright red if the bleeding is from the site closer to the anus or if it flows freely and rapidly from the small intestine; if the blood remains in the gut for a longer time without getting passed in stools then the bacteria break down the blood cells and cause the black color so is the reason the stools are black in color sometimes.
You have not specified the color of your stool in details hence would suggest you common causes for both upper and lower bleeds.

Common Causes not related to any specific disease.

Smoking, Regular alcohol intake, chewing of betel leaves or tobacco.
Eating of spicy food and oily food.
Stress, strenuous exercise can sometimes cause.
Intake of any medicines or Drugs.


Anal Lesions:
Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, Inflammatory bowel disease, Gastroenteritis(upper GI usually)
Diverticulitis
Fissure in ano
Piles or hemorrhoids
Rectal injury

So they are the most common causes. As you have not mentioned any history of yours kindly go through common causes first. If that's not your case then investigation of the anal canal should be done by proctoscope to rule out fissure, Hemorrhoid etc. an ultrasound abdomen should be done initially to rule out chances of inflammatory bowel disease.

Do you strain a lot while passing stools?
Are you constipated? Or do you ever feel constipated while passing stools?
Please let me know about your diet schedule too.

Hope I answered your query, please do follow-up with answers to the questions.


Regards.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Kampana
doctor
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Follow up: Dr. Ramesh Kumar (7 hours later)
My diet is not consistent. Do not normally eat 3 meals a day. Sometimes may not eat all day until supper. Do not eat sweets, but I do drink XXXXXXX Daniels nightly. Sometimes as much as a pint. I see a doctor regularly.
doctor
Answered by Dr. Ramesh Kumar (19 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
Follow up.

Detailed Answer:
Hi again,
In that case you should initially go for proctoscopic examination of your rectal canal and a ultra sound abdomen should be done to rule out the cause of bleeding.

Follow up with reports.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Kampana
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Answered by
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Dr. Ramesh Kumar

Gastroenterologist

Practicing since :1986

Answered : 2844 Questions

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What causes black tarry stool?

Brief Answer: Go to the emergency room or general surgeon as soon as possible. Detailed Answer: Hi there, Thanks for choosing this forum for your query. Black tarry stools can be due to a number of causes. However a stool test for occult blood should be done initially to make it clear if its blood or not.Your age is just 46 so swelling in abdomen or any other problem should not be because of age. There are many causes ranging from harmless illness to life-threatening disease conditions which can cause bleeding with stools. Usually the blood will be bright red if the bleeding is from the site closer to the anus or if it flows freely and rapidly from the small intestine; if the blood remains in the gut for a longer time without getting passed in stools then the bacteria break down the blood cells and cause the black color so is the reason the stools are black in color sometimes. You have not specified the color of your stool in details hence would suggest you common causes for both upper and lower bleeds. Common Causes not related to any specific disease. Smoking, Regular alcohol intake, chewing of betel leaves or tobacco. Eating of spicy food and oily food. Stress, strenuous exercise can sometimes cause. Intake of any medicines or Drugs. Anal Lesions: Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, Inflammatory bowel disease, Gastroenteritis(upper GI usually) Diverticulitis Fissure in ano Piles or hemorrhoids Rectal injury So they are the most common causes. As you have not mentioned any history of yours kindly go through common causes first. If that's not your case then investigation of the anal canal should be done by proctoscope to rule out fissure, Hemorrhoid etc. an ultrasound abdomen should be done initially to rule out chances of inflammatory bowel disease. Do you strain a lot while passing stools? Are you constipated? Or do you ever feel constipated while passing stools? Please let me know about your diet schedule too. Hope I answered your query, please do follow-up with answers to the questions. Regards.