Black stool suggests bleeding in the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Maroon-colored or bloody stool suggests bleeding lower in the GI tract. See your doctor if you experience bloody or tarry stool. They can check for the presence of ulcers, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis, and other GI conditions.
Stool that is black due to blood indicates a problem in the upper GI tract. Blood in the stool can be detected through a stool test. See your healthcare provider right away if you have black stool along with pain, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Esophageal and Gastric Cancers If you have bleeding in the upper GI tract — the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum — you could have black, tarry stools that are called melena. It could be a sign of esophageal and gastric cancers. Some other symptoms of esophageal cancer are: Problems with swallowing.
In the elderly (age ≥65 years), hemorrhoids and colorectal cancer are the most common causes of minor bleeding. Peptic ulcer, diverticular disease, and angiodysplasia are the most common causes of major bleeding. Approximately 35% to 45% of all cases of acute upper GI hemorrhage occur in elderly persons.
Gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding is a symptom of a disorder in your digestive tract. The blood often appears in stool or vomit but isn’t always visible, though it may cause the stool to look black or tarry. The level of bleeding can range from mild to severe and can be life-threatening.
Black tarry stools can happen in advanced liver disease and are caused by blood passing through the gastrointestinal tract – this needs urgent medical attention. Yellow skin or eyes (jaundice). Jaundice is due to the build-up of bilirubin (a bile pigment) in the blood because it can’t be processed effectively.
Considerations. Eating black licorice, blueberries, blood sausage or taking iron pills, activated charcoal, or medicines that contain bismuth (such as Pepto-Bismol), can also cause black stools. Beets and foods with red coloring can sometimes make stools appear reddish.
Dark colored / black stools are a common side effect and can last for several days after you stop taking Pepto-Bismol.
Damage to your stomach lining can happen for a variety of reasons, including stress, an autoimmune response, or an infection. Other causes include NSAIDs, smoking, or drinking alcohol or eating foods that irritate the lining of the stomach.
Black stool can be caused by a serious or life-threatening disease or condition of the gastrointestinal tract, such as a bleeding ulcer. It is important to contact your health care provider if you develop black stools, bloody stools, rectal bleeding, or a color change in your stools.
Internal bleeding is considered a leading cause of trauma-associated mortality globally. If untreated, severe or chronic hemorrhaging might lead to organ failure, seizures, coma, external bleeding, and eventually death. Even with treatment, severe internal bleeding is often fatal.
What are the symptoms of GI bleeding?
Stool that appears blackish or reddish in color can be a concern. It can indicate blood in the stool and may be a more serious gastrointestinal tract issue. But stool that simply seems darker than normal may be the result of dehydration, constipation, or eating dark-colored foods or iron-rich foods or supplements.