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What causes black tarry stools?

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General Surgeon
Practicing since : 2008
Answered : 1290 Questions
I've had two episodes of black, tarry stools - never had 'em before? Is this serious?
Posted Wed, 12 Mar 2014 in Digestion and Bowels
Answered by Dr. Ashish Verma 20 minutes later
Brief Answer: yes it is Detailed Answer: Hi, Thanks for writing to HCM. This is Dr. Ashish Verma, a general surgeon, answering to your query. Black tarry stool, or malena, as we call it, signifies upper gastrointestinal tract bleeding. This can be in case of peptic ulcer which can be stress induced in your case. So you need to have a upper gi endoscopy to identify the bleeding point and its further management. You need to see a gastro specialist for this. Till then start on a ppi tablet like pantaprazole twice daily. Hope, that I have answered to all your queries. If you have further queries, I will be glad to answer them. Regards, Dr. Ashish Verma
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Follow-up: What causes black tarry stools? 18 minutes later
then this won't go away by itself? It has nothing to do with all the 'wrong' foods I've eaten this weekend - lots of wheat products, some with butter, some with milk? Regardless of what I eat, the black stools will continue until the problem itself is remedied? How come I don't have any discomfort?
Answered by Dr. Ashish Verma 5 hours later
Brief Answer: it may go by itself Detailed Answer: Hi, The bleeding may stop by itself in some cases, if the source is small. But getting an endoscopy is still advisable as to get a baseline status of the upper gi tract, or if anything serious is there, it can be detected early, before things may get worse. A few days of wrong food wont cause this...its a chronic disease to cause ulces and erode deep to cause significant bleeding so as to cause malena. You should stop foods that increase acidity like tea, coffee, spicy help healing. And as to why you are not having any discomfort is something that I am also not understanding... but if there is no pain abdomen then malignancy can be a possibility... of the stomach. In all, considering the seriousness of the condition it is definitely worthwhile to visit a doctor and get investigated. Dr. Ashish Verma
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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