Having black stool can be caused by a variety of things. Sometimes it can be due to the consumption of certain foods. There are medications as well as supplements that may also cause your poop to appear black. But then there are instances in which it is due to some form of bleeding in the upper portion of your GI tract.
Before you panic at the sight of your dark-colored stool, it’s a good idea to bring to mind which foods, medications or supplements you have taken. If you cannot recall consuming anything that can give your stool a black color, then observe if you have weird symptoms as they may be indicators that there is a serious problem going on.
Melena vs. False Melena
Medical experts refer to black stool as melena. However, there is also the so-called false melena, which is the benign kind. In other words, false melena is something that is not due to an underlying condition that needs to be treated.
Actual melena is brought about by the presence of blood. Instead of red, the stool appears black because the blood present has already coagulated. This indicates that the source of bleeding is situated in the upper portion of the GI tract, which includes your esophagus, stomach and small intestine.
On the other hand, poop that has bright red blood on it is not called melena, but hematochezia. Experts say that it is brought about by bleeding in the lower portion of the GI tract, such as the large intestine, rectum and even anus.
False Melena, just like the name says, is not actually melena although it may look like such. Commonly, it’s because of something that you have taken that can cause your stool to end up with a black color.
Causes of Melena
Just about any form of bleeding in the upper portion of the GI tract can cause your stool to become black. Also, it tends to be tarry, which means that it seems like your poop is covered with tar, and it’s caused by blood coming into contact with digestive juices. Medical experts say that melena has a terrible smell to it, too.
Some of the most common causes of melena include gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining), bleeding ulcers, esophageal varices (dilated blood vessels in the lower portion of the esophagus or upper part of the stomach), and Mallory-Weiss tear (a tear where the esophagus and stomach meet).
There are a few symptoms that usually go together with melena, indicating that there is in fact a serious problem behind the black appearance of your poop. Some of them include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and bloating, excess gas, diarrhea, loss of appetite, unintended loss of weight and feeling like you have the flu.
Having the underlying medical condition treated by a doctor is important in order to prevent complications, as well as to stop melena from striking.
Causes of False Melena
When your black-colored stool is not caused by some form of bleeding in the upper portion of the GI tract, it’s known as false melena. The consumption of black licorice and blueberries are known to make the poop appear black. Consuming foods that have dark-colored dyes in them can cause false melena.
Then it’s also possible for false melena to be caused the medication or supplement that you have taken. Medical experts say that the intake of bismuth-containing antacids can make your stool look black. The same is true with the intake of iron supplements or multivitamins that contain lots of iron.
If you cannot associated having black stool with any food, medication or supplement that you have recently taken, make sure that you pay your doctor a visit to have the root cause of it identified.