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Asking for a Friend: Why Am I Pooping Blood?

There are few things in life more unsettling than sneaking a peek at your TP after you wipe and seeing blood staring back at you. It's easy to go into full-on freakout mode if you're pooping blood, but let's start with deep breaths first. "Bleeding with bowel movements is never normal, but it doesn't mean something scary is going on," says Jean Ashburn, M.D., a colorectal surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic. "The most common reasons are inflamed hemorrhoids and something called an anal fissure, which is like a paper cut that happens in the anal canal."

Both of these could be the result of excessive pushing during a toilet sesh or a particularly hard poop (pardon our French) passing through. Some non-bathroom-related activities, like schlepping heavy boxes or sitting for long stretches of time, could also cause the hemorrhoidal tissue that lines the anal canal to become inflamed and bleed.

Luckily, there's a fix. "Both conditions are significantly made better by adding fiber and water to the diet," Ashburn says. Eating 25 grams of fiber a day, or getting an assist from Metamucil or Benefiber, could clear things up. "It bulks up your stool so it's not as hard, and it passes much more gently," Ashburn says.

Hate to say it, but pooping blood is a great reason to visit your doctor. She might recommend you simply adjust your diet, but if the issue goes on for too long and becomes more serious, surgery might be needed as a fix, Ashburn says.

Another reason to give your doc a head's up: The blood could indicate there's a more serious issue lurking beneath the surface. "Rarely, but more commonly these days, we're seeing young people with colon and rectal cancers," Ashburn says. People under the age of 40 who are diagnosed are more likely to have a family history of colorectal cancer, according to a recent study published in the International Journal of Clinical Oncology. Now, check out these 6 Things You're Not Telling Your Doc But Should.

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