4. Why is my stool darker than usual?
Few people want to discuss their stool color unless they have a compelling reason to do so, such as seeing blood in their feces or noticing a significant color change from their normal brown stools. Hematochezia, the medical term for rectal bleeding, may result in fecal blood that’s bright red or a darker shade of red. It may even be black and tarry looking. Seeing fecal blood that’s not bright red in color may convince you it’s something other than blood, or just lead you to wait it out rather than see a doctor.
However, the exact hue of the blood in your feces can reveal something about the source of the problem. For example, the closer a medical problem is to the anus, the redder the blood in feces will be. If the problem is further up the GI tract or colon, the fecal blood will be darker because the bacteria have more time to break it down. If fecal blood is barely visible, it may be the result of anemia, hemorrhoids or anal fissure, which is a painful tearing of the rectal tissue.
Sometimes, certain medications or foods can also change the color of your stool, such as Iron Pills, Bismuth (such as Pepto-Bismol or Kaopectate), Beets, Black Licorice, and Red Gelatin which are less concerning. However, it could also be a sign of rectal or colon cancer, so you should get it checked out as soon as possible.