Bowel movement is discharge of stool from the digestive tract. Black bowel movement is nothing but black colored stool. Normal color of stool is yellow or brown. It is because of the bile present in stool. Change in color of stool is of significant value as it gives hint to the physician in diagnosis of a disease.
Black colored bowel movement is a term used for black tarry stool. In medical parlance it is known as malena. Black tarry stool can occur due to range of causes. It can be due to certain medications or due to serious conditions such as peptic ulcer.
What Are The Causes Of Black Bowel Movement?
Black bowel movement occurs due to bleeding from upper gastrointestinal tract. These symptoms originate from variety of conditions such as infection, injury, inflammation and tumor in the upper gastrointestinal tract. The bleeding can be from esophagus, stomach, or first part of duodenum. The color of stool turns black because hemoglobin in blood leaked from stomach or esophagus gets oxidized by the stomach acid.
Some amount of acid may appear in the duodenum hence bleeding from this area may also change the stool color to black and tarry. It may be accompanied with mucus in such case the stool is very sticky and difficult to get washed out from the toilet vessel. Below are the possible causes of black bowel movement.
- Stomach ulcer: Blood seeping out from stomach or duodenal ulcer can change the color of stool to black and tarry. In fact it is one of the tell tale signs of stomach and duodenal ulcer.
- Esophageal Varices: Esophageal varices is a serious condition of esophagus. It is rupture of dilated esophageal blood vessel. Esophageal varices occur in condition as in advanced stage of cirrhosis of liver.
- Stomach cancer: A bleeding malignant tumor of the stomach can cause black bowel movement.
- Gastritis: Chronic gastritis can cause intermittent black tarry stool.
- Radiation therapy in case of cancer of stomach.
- Inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis.
- Injury and tear in the esophagus due to violent vomiting.
- Bleeding from paranasal sinuses.
- Chronic use of NSAID medicines and oral steroids.
- Iron supplements can give black tarry stool.
- Lead poisoning can give rise to black colored stool.
Treatment For Black Bowel Movement
Black bowel movement is a symptom of an underlying condition. The normal color of stool is not black and tarry. If a patient detects black tarry bowel movement, he should consult his physician immediately. There are several serious causes such as stomach and duodenal ulcers that can give rise to black tarry stools. The main aim of treatment is to diagnose the underlying disease. Once the disease is known, remedial measures can be taken.
If black bowel movement is due to gastric and duodenal ulcer, patient is prescribed proton pump inhibitors, antibiotics and antacids. PPI blocks too much of acid production in stomach and duodenum, thus reducing irritation of the ulcer. These medicines enhance the healing process of ulcer.
Esophageal varices is controlled with appropriate blockage of the bleeding vessel with rings and other specialized medical devices.
Patient should not take NSAID or steroid drug when there is bleeding from the upper GI tract.