Physicians understand the term tarry stool or melena to mean a clearly visible blackening of the stool. Depending on the cause, this can be accompanied by health problems or can occur without any symptoms at all. Various diseases, but also certain foods or medications can be responsible for the tarry stool.
What is tar stool?
Tar stool (melena) is a form of the so-called black stool. The term “black stool” refers to all black discoloration of the stool. However, if the stool is shiny and very foul-smelling, deep black, experts speak of tarry stool. For what does dna stand for, please visit ezhoushan.net.
This is often an indicator of a serious illness, because the extreme coloration often comes from bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. However, a black stool does not always have to be due to a disease.
Certain medications or foods can also be responsible for the discoloration. However, since there may be a cause that requires urgent medical treatment, a doctor should be consulted if the tarry stool occurs.
Tarry stool often occurs when there is bleeding in the upper digestive tract. The blood is then passed out in the stool. Bleeding can be caused by numerous diseases, such as inflammation of the gastric mucosa, stomach ulcers, inflammation of the esophagus or even stomach cancer.
If there are varicose veins in the stomach or esophagus, these can also be responsible for bleeding and thus also for tarry stool. Unfortunately, patients with extremely slow digestion are also more likely to have tarry stools.
In principle, however, a black discoloration of the stool does not always have to be caused by an illness. The intake of charcoal or iron supplements as well as the consumption of large amounts of blackberries, red wine or red meat can also lead to a temporary significant discoloration of the stool.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
The stool of a healthy person is dark brown in color. However, it can also take on significantly darker tones. If it is jet black, it is called tarry stool. The color of the excretion is reminiscent of the road surface on German roads. The tar stool often has a dull sheen. Patients also sometimes report that the stool has an unusually foul odor.
In addition to appearance, those affected can be diagnosed with tarry stool if they have a known disease. All complaints that cause bleeding in the digestive tract are eligible. These include gastric ulcers, inflammation of the gastric mucosa or esophagus or varicose veins. The jet-black discharge results from the contact of the blood with stomach acid or bacteria.
However, the intake of certain foods and medications is also symptomatic of black excretion. These cause a similar-looking sputum, but no tarry stool. If, on the other hand, there is pain in the abdominal area, nausea and headaches, the suspicion of a disease is confirmed.
The tar stool is usually only recognizable by its appearance. Previous illnesses, eating habits and medication intake can only be seen as indications that a serious illness is present. Only examination of the stool can provide ultimate certainty.
Diagnosis & History
Tartar stool can be diagnosed primarily by examining a stool sample. If blood can be detected in the stool in this way, further comprehensive examinations such as gastroscopy or colonoscopy must be carried out in order to determine the exact cause.
If there is no blood in the stool sample, a detailed discussion should take place with the person concerned, in which, among other things, eating habits, medical history and medication should be discussed.
The course depends heavily on the actual cause of the tarry stool. If the underlying condition is more severe, the condition of the affected person can even become life-threatening if left untreated. An early visit to the doctor is therefore strongly recommended.
Depending on its cause, tarry stool can cause different complications. If the altered stool is due to a serious gastrointestinal disease, pain, inflammation and other secondary symptoms of the respective disease can occur over the course of the disease. While tarry stool itself is relatively harmless, its cause can have serious complications.
In the case of gastric cancer or gastric ulcers, changes in the stool indicate a severe course. People with slow digestion often also suffer from constipation and other gastrointestinal disorders associated with tarry stool. Long-lasting tarry stools can also lead to anemia and, as a result, to paleness, cold fingers, malaise and reduced performance and exhaustion. Infections in the anus can also occur. Complications can also arise when treating tarry stool.
Excessive intake of charcoal or iron supplements can cause side effects and interactions. Iron tablets often trigger nausea, vomiting, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation and stomachache. Charcoal tablets can cause constipation and, very rarely, intestinal blockage. Depending on which condition the tarry stool is based on, further complications may occur as part of the therapeutic measures.
When should you go to the doctor?
Tarry stool is an indication that bleeding is occurring in the digestive tract. When the blood clots, it is excreted in the stool, turning it dark. The exception is the child spech, the first bowel movement in a newborn baby. If dark stool occurs after this age, a doctor’s visit must be made to clarify the cause – even from infancy. The doctor will first want to know how long the tarry stool has been appearing and whether the stool appears regularly or if it is just an occasional observation. Other complaints and changes in well-being are also important for the treating doctor, because they can find a possible cause more quickly.
Those affected with tarry stools will not be able to avoid a gastroscopy or colonoscopy, because otherwise the doctor cannot identify why bleeding is occurring in the digestive tract. Before that, however, an attempt may be made to use ultrasound to determine whether a cause can already be found. If nothing can be seen there, other imaging procedures can also be used so that a targeted search can be carried out during the subsequent mirroring and the patient has to stay under anesthesia for a shorter period of time. Even if an underlying disease is known that can lead to tarry stool, a doctor should be consulted as soon as the condition changes or if tarry stool occurs more frequently than before.
Treatment & Therapy
Once the tarry stool has been examined and the cause of the discoloration identified, the attending physician initiates appropriate therapy. If acute bleeding is found in the stomach, intestines or esophagus, it must be stopped. This can be done, among other things, by means of a surgical procedure or directly as part of a colon or gastroscopy.
The actual cause is then treated. If the tarry stool is caused by an inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, antibiotics can be administered to eliminate it. If the esophagus and surrounding tissues have been damaged by excess stomach acid, antacids are prescribed to stop the acid from causing further bleeding.
If cancer is present, the tumor is surgically removed – if this is possible. Otherwise, chemotherapy can stop the malignant cells from growing and eliminate the cancer. Especially in the case of acid overproduction or inflammation of the gastric mucosa or esophagus, homeopathic remedies can also be used to gently balance the acid-base balance.
However, such therapy should always be discussed with the doctor treating you, since pure homeopathic treatment is not sufficient in the case of a serious illness and the patient’s state of health could deteriorate dramatically.
Since there can be very different causes for tarry stool, direct prevention is not possible. However, a healthy lifestyle, a balanced diet and regular medical examinations can minimize the risk of internal bleeding or gastrointestinal diseases. If tarry stool occurs and/or associated abdominal symptoms are identified, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible so that a serious illness can be ruled out.
Tar stool in itself is not a disease, but the symptom of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract that are associated with bleeding. Therefore, follow-up care should be tailored to these diseases. It is best discussed with the internist or family doctor who has also treated the respective disease.
Protection of the gastrointestinal tract after tarry stool is an important factor in aftercare. This can be achieved through a gentle diet. This includes foods that are easy to digest and are not irritating or flatulent. Fatty and spicy foods are just two examples of foods that should be avoided during aftercare. Also meals that are too lavish should ideally be replaced by small portions several times a day.
Drinking is very important for healthy bowel function. Those affected by tarry stool do this optimally with at least 1.5 to 2 liters of water and herbal tea. Non-carbonated water is preferable in this regard. In addition, alcohol is taboo and coffee should only be consumed in moderation.
In order to recognize bleeding quickly, stool rolls are a side-effect-free diagnostic aid that patients can carry out themselves at home. This is also an important element in aftercare. It is important that the result can be distorted by certain foods. For more information, see the package leaflet.
You can do that yourself
Tarry stool occurs when the stool becomes dark in color from blood or dyes in food. If the causes are harmless, there are a few things the patient can do themselves to restore the normal stool color.
First of all, a change in diet is recommended. Foods such as liquorice, beetroot or blueberries can darken the stool. If the tarry stool occurs without any further symptoms, an unbalanced diet may be the cause. Long-term abnormalities should be discussed with the family doctor or a nutritionist. The tarry stool may be due to internal bleeding or a gastrointestinal disease that needs medical treatment.
If a stomach ulcer has been diagnosed as the cause, a strict bland diet must be observed. The patient must not consume greasy food, coffee or alcohol. Smokers should reduce their cigarette consumption. This also applies if the tarry stool is due to Mallory-Weiss syndrome or another serious illness.
The first step is to stop the bleeding, which requires an examination using an endoscope or ultrasound. Depending on the type of illness, it may be sufficient to take medication. Severe bleeding, which may even be due to stomach cancer or major damage to the mucous membrane, requires surgery. The patient should take it easy after such an operation and continue to follow a balanced and gentle diet. If symptoms persist, a doctor’s visit is recommended.