Have you come across spots of blood in bodily fluids like mucus, urine, stool, breast milk, or vomit? If you have, don’t be alarmed and jump to the conclusion that there is something seriously wrong with you. Such blood spots could just indicate a small issue that can be treated right at home. Not so sure? Let’s tell you exactly what blood spots in body fluids can mean and what you can do.
Blood in urine might be a symptom of a urinary tract infection (UTI) or bladder infection, particularly if you have a burning sensation when you urinate. Although any part of your urinary tract might be infected with UTI (bladder, urethra, ureters, and kidneys), the bladder is the most susceptible. Most infections in women are the result of bacteria from the toilet bowl reaching the urethra and the bladder. Among men, it is usually caused by problems that restrict normal urine flow, like an enlarged prostate.
- Kidney infection: causes a pain on the side of your stomach and a high temperature
- Kidney stones: block one of the tubes coming from your kidneys and cause pain in the stomach
- Urethritis: causes the urethra to become inflated and is usually caused by a sexually transmitted infection like chlamydia
- An enlarged prostate gland: causes difficulty in urinating and a persistent need to urinate, commonly on older men
Blood in your snot is often not a serious cause for concern. Chances are that some of the many blood vessels in the nose are damaged. Once you have a damaged blood vessel, the bleeding could occur more frequently when you blow your nose because the scab covering the broken blood vessel would have broken off.
- Cold, dry weather
- Nose picking
- Nasal congestion or respiratory infections
- Injury or surgery
- Foreign objects in the nose
Blood in your stool can indicate a problem anywhere in the digestive tract (from the mouth to the anus). On one hand, if you see bright-red blood, it might be from somewhere near your anus where there is a small tear (anal fissure) or the culprit could be piles (hemorrhoids).3
On the other hand, a darker and sticky blood indicates bleeding higher up in the digestive system. The feces may be plum-colored or black in this case and can indicate more serious issues. This type of bleeding could be caused by:4
- Abnormal blood vessels
- Bleeding ulcer in the stomach
- Trauma or foreign body
- Anal fissures
- Infection in the intestines
- Inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)
- A tear in the esophagus from violent vomiting
- Overgrown, widened veins (called varices) in the stomach and esophagus
Sometimes, the color of your stool will just be reflecting what you ate. For example, your stool may appear black if you eat lead, black licorice, iron pills, or blueberries. It could appear reddish if you eat beets or tomatoes.
4. Breast Milk
Finding blood in your breast milk need not cause alarm as it is in fact very common, especially among first-time breastfeeding moms. You may find spots of blood in your pumped milk or in your baby’s mouth. Unless you have a disease that you could pass on to your baby, like hepatitis C, or you find blood in the milk for over a week, you need not freak out. Here are some of the common reasons that you may find blood in your breast milk:
- Cracked nipples: cracked, bleeding nipples due to irritation
- Vascular engorgement: swelling of breast tissue due to an increased flow of blood and lymph
- Broken capillaries: caused by not being gentle while expelling milk or by injury
- Mastitis: painful inflammation of the breast tissue
- Benign intraductal papilloma: benign tumors on the lining of the milk ducts
Vomiting blood (hematemesis) may be caused by minor issues such as accidentally swallowing blood from a nosebleed or a mouth injury. Vomiting blood due to these issues need not alarm you as they won’t have any long-term effects. However, blood in your vomit can also be due to serious conditions such as organ bleeding, organ rupture or internal injuries. So, if you are vomiting a large quantity of blood or if the vomiting is combined with breathing difficulty or dizziness, visit your doctor immediately.
- Esophagus irritation
- Swallowing blood
- Tear in the esophagus due to chronic coughing or vomiting
- Swallowing a foreign object
- Side effects of aspirin
- Stomach ulcers
- Gastritis or stomach inflammation
- Alcoholic hepatitis
Now that you know that a little blood in any of these bodily fluids need not be a grave matter of concern, do not brush aside all signs of serious illness/injury. Make sure that you consult a doctor if you see blood in the fluids for more than a few days or if you see a large quantity of blood. Better safe than sorry.
|↑1||Bladder Infection (Urinary Tract Infection—UTI) in Adults. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S.|
|↑2||Blood in urine (haematuria). National Health Service, UK.|
|↑3||Rectal bleeding. National Health Service, UK.|
|↑4||Bloody or tarry stools.