- Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms and Diagnosis
- What Are the Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?
- How Is Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosed?
- Ulcerative Colitis Complications
- Signs of an Emergency
- Can You Die From Ulcerative Colitis?
- Causes of Diarrhea and Skin Changes
- Our Patient: Behçet Disease or Crohn Disease?
- Further Workup
- Case Continued: Skin Biopsy and Colonoscopy
- Bloody Diarrhea
- What is bloody diarrhea?
- What other symptoms might occur with bloody diarrhea?
- What causes bloody diarrhea?
- What are the potential complications of bloody diarrhea?
- What causes mucus in stools?
- 317 Possible Causes for Fatigue, Low Back Pain, Mucus in Stool, Rectovaginal Fistula
- Causes of Mucus in the Stools & Abdominal Pain
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms and Diagnosis
Find out about the cycles of disease activity, how to get the condition diagnosed, and what to do if complications arise.
Stomach pain and cramps can be a sign of Crohn’s disease. iStock.com
Ulcerative colitis symptoms tend to come and go, with periods of remission between flare-ups.
Remission can last for months or years, which can make it difficult to know whether a treatment helped or a spontaneous remission occurred. (1)
Ulcerative colitis may progress over time, affecting greater areas of the colon.
In general, the more of the colon that’s affected, the more serious the disease and the worse its symptoms and complications. (2)
What Are the Symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis?
The most common symptoms of ulcerative colitis are abdominal pain and diarrhea that often contains blood, pus, or both.
The disease and these symptoms typically come on gradually. (2)
As the disease progresses, other symptoms may include:
- Rectal pain, bleeding, or both
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Urgency to defecate
- Inability to defecate in spite of urgency
- Severe tiredness
- Skin sores
- Joint pain
- Growth failure in children
If you have ulcerative proctitis — which affects only the rectum — your only symptom may be rectal bleeding. This form of the disease tends to be the least severe.
Proctosigmoiditis — which affects the rectum and lower part of the colon — tends to cause bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, and difficulty defecating despite a strong urge to do so.
Left-sided colitis — which affects the rectum and colon up to an area called the descending colon — often causes bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain of the left side, and unintended weight loss.
If you have pancolitis — which affects the entire colon — you’re likely to experience severe episodes of bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, fatigue, and major weight loss. (2)
How Is Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosed?
It’s important to see a doctor if you have some combination of the following symptoms:
- Persistent change in bowel habits (such as diarrhea for several weeks)
- Frequent stools
- Abdominal pain
- Blood or mucus in your stool
- Diarrhea that awakens you from sleep
- Unexplained fever lasting more than a day or two (2)
Your doctor will use your history of symptoms, a physical exam, and a number of tests to make a diagnosis.
At first, your doctor will investigate whether you have ulcerative colitis or another condition, such as an infectious form of diarrhea.
The tests used to diagnose ulcerative colitis can also help determine which type of the disease you have, based on the areas of your colon that are affected. (1)
Tests that may be used to help diagnose ulcerative colitis and rule out other conditions, include:
- Blood Tests Your doctor may order these to check for anemia and infection.
- Stool Analysis This can rule out conditions that may be mistaken for ulcerative colitis, such as infections caused by bacteria or parasites. White blood cells in your stool can also be a sign of ulcerative colitis.
- Colonoscopy A colonoscopy is a procedure that uses a flexible tube with a camera to view the inside of your colon and obtain tissue samples for analysis.
- Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Similar to a colonoscopy but less extensive, this procedure uses a flexible tube with a light to view just the lower portion of the colon. A definitive diagnosis of ulcerative colitis is generally made using endoscopy — that is, a colonoscopy or a sigmoidoscopy.
- X-Ray A type of imaging, X-ray may be used on your abdominal area to look for serious complications.
- Barium Enema This is an X-ray in which the colon is filled with liquid barium before images are taken.
- CT Scan A computerized tomography, or CT scan, is a type of imaging that may be used on your abdomen or pelvis to see how much of the colon is inflamed and whether serious complications have developed. (2)
Ulcerative Colitis Complications
One of the most serious and potentially life-threatening complications of ulcerative colitis is toxic, or fulminant, colitis, also called acute, severe colitis, or toxic megacolon.
It occurs when a section of the colon becomes dilated and immobile, raising the risk of heavy bleeding, perforation, and peritonitis, an infection of the abdominal lining.
Common symptoms include pain, abdominal distention (bloating), fever, and a rapid heart rate.
In many cases, toxic colitis requires surgery to remove all or part of the colon and rectum. (3)
Possible complications of ulcerative colitis include:
- Back Pain In some patients, ulcerative colitis is associated with a severe form of arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis, which affects the spine. The condition can lead to severe, chronic back pain.
- Eye Problems Occasionally, people affected by UC will experience inflammation in their eyes. This can manifest in symptoms ranging from mild (redness, tearing, and burning sensation) to severe (blurred vision, headache, and eye pain). (4)
- High Blood Pressure Certain medications for ulcerative colitis, such as corticosteroids, are associated with a risk of high blood pressure. IBD can also increase the risk of blood clots. (5)
- Bowel Cancer People with ulcerative colitis have a higher risk of colorectal cancer than the general population, and those with severe ulcerative colitis have the highest risk. But studies have shown that taking maintenance medication to prevent recurrence of active disease may lower your colon cancer risk. (2,6)
- Fertility Women who have undergone surgeries to treat their IBD, particularly colectomies with ileostomies or J-pouches for ulcerative colitis, do appear to have decreased fertility rates, according to the Crohns & Colitis Foundation. However, generally speaking, women whose UC is in remission can become pregnant as easily as other women the same age. (7)
Ulcerative colitis is also associated with:
- Bleeding and anemia (inadequate red blood cells)
- Inflammation of the skin, joints, and eyes
- Perforation colon (a hole in the colon) (2)
- Blood clots
- Canker sores
- Delayed growth and development in children
- Kidney stones
- Liver and gallbladder disease (3)
Signs of an Emergency
Toxic colitis is a life-threatening emergency.
Toxic colitis may occur rapidly and spontaneously for no apparent reason, or as a result of overusing certain kinds of medication, such as antidiarrheal drugs and some pain relievers. (8)
Symptoms of toxic colitis may include:
- Sudden, violent diarrhea
- High fever
- Abdominal pain
- Rebound tenderness (pain as your doctor removes pressure applied to your abdomen)
- Rapid heartbeat
- Altered mental state
Rebound tenderness is a sign of peritonitis, an infection of the lining of the abdomen. (8)
If you have toxic colitis, your doctor will probably hospitalize you for treatment.
In some cases, your doctor may prescribe high-dose, intravenous corticosteroid drugs to control your symptoms.
If this approach fails, your doctor may try other drugs.
In some cases, you will need surgery to remove the diseased portion of your colon. (8)
Can You Die From Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis usually isn’t fatal, according to the Mayo Clinic. But it can cause severe and even life-threatening complications. (2)
This means that ulcerative colitis is considered a serious illness, and you should treat its management and treatment with a similar seriousness.
Getting the right treatments for ulcerative colitis can cause a dramatic reduction in symptoms and possibly lead to lasting remission. (2)
Causes of Diarrhea and Skin Changes
1. What is the most likely diagnosis in our patient?
- Ulcerative colitis
- Crohn disease
- Behçet disease
- Intestinal tuberculosis
- Herpes simplex virus infection
- Cytomegalovirus infection
All of the above can cause diarrhea in combination with mucocutaneous lesions and other manifestations.
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn disease: Mucocutaneous findings
Extraintestinal manifestations of inflammatory bowel diseases (Crohn disease, ulcerative colitis, and Behçet disease) include arthritis, ocular involvement, mucocutaneous manifestations, and liver involvement in the form of primary sclerosing cholangitis. Less common extraintestinal manifestations include vascular, renal, pulmonary, cardiac, and neurologic involvement.
Mucocutaneous findings are observed in 5% to 10% of patients with ulcerative colitis and 20% to 75% of patients with Crohn disease.1–3 The most common are erythema nodosum and pyoderma gangrenosum.4
Yüksel et al5 reported that of 352 patients with inflammatory bowel disease, 7.4% had erythema nodosum and 2.3% had pyoderma gangrenosum. Erythema nodosum was significantly more common in patients with Crohn disease than in those with ulcerative colitis, and its severity was linked with higher disease activity. Lesions frequently resolved when bowel disease subsided.
Lebwohl and Lebwohl6 reported that pyoderma gangrenosum occurred in up to 20% of patients with Crohn disease and up to 10% of those with ulcerative colitis. It is not known whether pyoderma gangrenosum correlates with intestinal disease severity.
Other mucocutaneous manifestations of inflammatory bowel disease include oral aphthous ulcers, acute febrile neutrophilic dermatosis (Sweet syndrome), and metastatic Crohn disease. Aphthous ulcers in the oral cavity, often observed in both Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis, cannot be differentiated on clinical examination from herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1-induced or idiopathic mucous membrane ulcers. The most common ulcer locations are the lips and buccal mucosa. If biopsied (seldom required), noncaseating granulomas can be identified that are comparable with intestinal mucosal granulomas found in Crohn disease.7
Behçet disease has similar signs
Oral aphthous ulcers are also the most frequent symptom in Behçet disease, occurring in 97% to 100% of cases.8 They most commonly affect the tongue, lips, buccal mucosa, and gingiva.
Cutaneous manifestations include erythema nodosum-like lesions, which present as erythematous painful nodules over pretibial surfaces of the lower limbs but can also affect the arms and thighs; they can also present as papulopustular rosacea eruptions composed of papules, pustules, and noninflammatory comedones, most commonly on the chest, back, and shoulders.8,9
Pathergy, ie, skin hyperresponse to minor trauma such as a bump or bruise, is a typical trait of Behçet disease. A positive pathergy test (ie, skin hyperreactivity to a needlestick or intracutaneous injection) has a specificity of 98.4% in patients with Behçet disease.10
Interestingly, there appears to be a regional difference in the susceptibility to pathergy. While a pathergy response in patients with Behçet disease is rare in the United States and the United Kingdom, it is very common in Japan, Turkey, and Israel.11
Patient demographics also distinguish Behçet disease from Crohn disease. The prevalence of Behçet disease is highest along the Silk Road from the Mediterranean Basin to East Asia and lowest in North America and Northern Europe.12 The mean age at onset is around the third and fourth decades. In males, the prevalence is highest in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Asian countries. In females, the prevalence is highest in the United States, Northern Europe, and East Asia.10
Tubercular skin lesions can present in different forms.13 Lupus vulgaris, the most common, occurs after primary infection and presents as translucent brown nodules, mainly over the face and neck. So-called scrofuloderma is common at the site of a lymph node. It appears as a gradually enlarging subcutaneous nodule followed by skin breaks and ulcerations. Tuberculosis verrucosa cutis, also known as warty tuberculosis, is common in developing countries and presents as warty plaque over the hands, knees, and buttocks.14 Tuberculids are skin reactions to systemic tuberculosis infection.
Herpes simplex virus
Mucocutaneous manifestations of herpes simplex virus affect the oral cavity (gingivostomatitis, pharyngitis, and lip border lesions), the entire integumentary system, the eyes (HSV-1), and the genital region (HSV-2). The classic presentation is systemic symptoms (fever and malaise) associated with multiple vesicles on an erythematous base in a distinct region of skin. The virus can remain latent with reactivation occurring because of illness, immunosuppression, or stress. Pruritus and pain precede the appearance of these lesions.
Primary cytomegalovirus infection is subclinical in almost all cases unless the patient is immunocompromised, and it presents similarly to mononucleosis induced by Epstein-Barr virus. The skin manifestations are nonspecific and can include macular, maculopapular, morbilliform, and urticarial rashes, but usually not ulcerations.15
Our Patient: Behçet Disease or Crohn Disease?
In our patient, oral mucosal aphthous ulcers and the location of pustular skin lesions, in addition to pathergy, were highly suggestive of Behçet disease. However, Crohn disease with mucocutaneous manifestations remained in the differential diagnosis.
Because there is significant overlap between these diseases, it is important to know the key distinguishing features. Oral aphthous ulcers, pathergy, uveitis, skin and genital lesions, and neurologic involvement are much more common in Behçet disease than in Crohn disease.16,17 Demographic information was not helpful in this case, given that the patient was adopted.
2. What should be the next step in the work-up?
- CT enterography
- Skin biopsy
- Colonoscopy with biopsy
- C-reactive protein, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and fecal calprotecting testing
The endoscopic appearance and histopathology of the affected tissues are crucial for the diagnosis. Differentiating between Crohn disease and Behçet disease can be particularly challenging because of significant overlap between the intestinal and extraintestinal manifestations of the two diseases, especially the oral lesions and arthralgias. Thus, both colonoscopy with biopsy of the intestinal lesions and biopsy of a cutaneous ulceration should be pursued.
No single test or feature is pathognomonic for Behçet disease. Although many diagnostic criteria have been established, those of the International Study Group (Table 2) are the most widely used.18 Their sensitivity for Behçet disease has been found to be 92%, and their specificity 97%.19
Both CT enterography and inflammatory markers would depict inflammation, but since this is present in both Crohn disease and Behçet disease, these tests would not be helpful in this situation.
Endoscopic appearance of Crohn disease and Behçet disease
Intestinal Behçet disease, like Crohn disease, is an inflammatory bowel disease occurring throughout the gastrointestinal tract (small and large bowel). Both are chronic diseases with a waxing and waning course and have similar extraintestinal manifestations. Typical endoscopic lesions are deep, sharply demarcated (“punched-out”), round ulcers. The intestinal Behçet disease and Crohn disease ulcer phenotype and distribution can look the same, and in both entities, rectal sparing and “skip lesions” have been described.20–22
Nevertheless, findings on endoscopy have been analyzed to try to differentiate between Crohn disease and Behçet disease.
In 2009, Lee et al23 published a simple and accurate strategy for distinguishing the two diseases endoscopically. The authors reviewed 250 patients (115 with Behçet disease, 135 with Crohn disease) with ulcers on colonoscopy and identified 5 endoscopic findings indicative of intestinal Behçet disease:
- Round ulcers
- Focal single or focal multiple distribution of ulcers
- Fewer than 6 ulcers
- Absence of a “cobblestone” appearance
- Absence of aphthous lesions.
The two most accurate factors were absence of a cobblestone appearance (sensitivity 100%) and round ulcer shape (specificity 97.5 %). When more than one factor was present, specificity increased but sensitivity decreased.
Figure 1. From Lee SK, Kim BK, Kim TI, Kim WH. Differential diagnosis of intestinal Behçet’s disease and Crohn’s disease by colonoscopic findings. Endoscopy 2009; 41:9–16; copyright Georg Thieme Verlag KG.
Using a classification and regression tree analysis, the investigators created an algorithm that endoscopically differentiates between Crohn disease and Behçet disease (Figure 1) with an accuracy of 92 %.23
Histopathologic analysis of both colonic and skin lesions can provide additional clues to the correct diagnosis. Vasculitis suggests Behçet disease, whereas granulomas suggest Crohn disease.
Case Continued: Skin Biopsy and Colonoscopy
Punch biopsy of the skin was performed on the right anterior thigh. Histopathologic analysis revealed acanthotic epidermis, a discrete full-thickness necrotic ulcer with a neutrophilic base, granulation tissue, and vasculitic changes. There were no vasculitic changes or granulomas outside the ulcer base. Cytomegalovirus staining was negative. An interferon-gamma release assay for tuberculosis was negative. Eye examination results were normal.
Figure 2. Colonoscopy revealed multiple deep, round, confluent ulcers with a “punched-out” appearance, as well as fissures in the entire colon with normal intervening mucosa and normal terminal ileum.
Colonoscopy showed multiple deep, round, and confluent ulcers with a punched-out appearance and fissures with normal intervening mucosa in the entire examined colon (Figure 2). The terminal ileal mucosa was normal. Colonic biopsies were consistent with cryptitis and rare crypt abscesses. Vasculitis was not identified.
Although the histologic changes were nonspecific, at this point we considered Behçet disease to be more likely than Crohn disease, given the typical endoscopic appearance and skin changes.
What is bloody diarrhea?
Bloody diarrhea is a potentially critical condition in which there is blood mixed in with loose, watery stools. The blood can arise from anywhere along your digestive tract, from the mouth to the anus. Bloody diarrhea is often a sign of gastrointestinal bleeding due to injury or disease. Diarrhea that contains bright red or maroon-colored blood may be referred to as hematochezia, while melena is used to describe black, tarry, and smelly diarrhea. Bloody diarrhea may also be referred to as dysentery, which is usually caused by a bacterial infection.
Bloody diarrhea can occur in all age groups and populations. Depending on the cause, it can last for a short time (acute) and disappear relatively quickly, such as when it is due to a gastrointestinal infection. Bloody diarrhea can also recur over a longer period of time (chronic), such as when it is due to inflammatory bowel disease.
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Bloody diarrhea is a potentially life-threatening condition that should be evaluated in a medical setting. If you are also dizzy, weak, and vomiting blood, you should seek immediate medical care in an emergency setting.
What other symptoms might occur with bloody diarrhea?
Depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition, bloody diarrhea may occur with other symptoms including:
Abdominal pain or cramping
Abdominal swelling or bloating
Mucus or undigested food in feces
Urgent need to pass stool
Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition
In some cases, bloody diarrhea may occur with other symptoms that might indicate a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting.
Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, are exhibiting any of these life-threatening symptoms:
Change in level of consciousness
Confusion and disorientation
High fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit)
Rigid, board-like abdomen
Severe abdominal pain
Vomiting blood or black material (resembling coffee grounds)
Weakness (loss of strength)
What causes bloody diarrhea?
Bloody diarrhea can indicate a relatively mild condition, such as a hemorrhoid or anal fissure, or it can be caused by a life-threatening condition, such as ruptured esophageal varices or bleeding peptic ulcer.
In children, bloody diarrhea is most commonly due to a bacterial infection and inflammation in the lower gastrointestinal system. This is often linked to eating food contaminated with bacteria and parasites.
Black, tarry diarrhea usually indicates that the blood is coming from the upper gastrointestinal tract (esophagus, stomach and duodenum), while bright red or maroon-colored diarrhea often originates from bleeding in the lower gastrointestinal tract (colon, rectum and anus). Bloody diarrhea that is associated with dizziness or vomiting blood should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting.
Gastrointestinal tract causes of bloody diarrhea
Causes of bloody diarrhea related to the gastrointestinal tract include:
Bleeding peptic ulcer
Blood vessel malformation
Bowel ischemia or bowel obstruction
Esophageal trauma or esophageal varices
Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)
Intestinal infection (food poisoning)
Intestinal polyps or intestinal tumor
Meckel’s diverticulum (an abnormal pouch near the lower end of the small intestine)
Other causes of bloody diarrhea
Bloody diarrhea can also be caused by:
Medication side effects
Serious or life-threatening causes of bloody diarrhea
Any type of bloody stools should be evaluated by a health care professional. Bloody diarrhea can indicate a serious and potentially life-threatening disease, disorder or condition including:
Bleeding peptic ulcer
Ruptured esophageal varices
Severe abdominal trauma
What are the potential complications of bloody diarrhea?
Over time, bloody diarrhea can lead to serious complications including:
Hemolytic uremic syndrome or other type of kidney failure
Severe blood loss
B. Common Pitfalls and Side-Effects of Management of this Clinical Problem
Immunocompromised and elderly patients can present atypically for many of the diagnoses described above. Given their weakened immune system and their inability to mount a sufficient response to infection, the physician must always consider this when suspecting a diagnosis.
IV antibiotic choices for LUQ pain should initially include broad coverage for gram-positive (including MRSA), if skin flora is the likely source, gram-negative, and anaerobic bacteria. Once a source is identified and speciated, the regimen can be de-escalated.
IV. What’s the evidence?
Anand, N, Park, JH, Wu, BU. “Modern management of acute pancreatitis”. Gastroenterol Clin North Am.. vol. 41. 2012 Mar. pp. 1-8.
Greenberger, NJ, Blumberg, RS, Burakoff, R. Current Diagnosis & Treatment: Gastroenterology, Hepatology, & Endoscopy. 2012.
Knudson, MP. “Evaluation of acute abdominal pain in adults”. Am Fam Physician. vol. 77. 2008 Apr 1. pp. 971-8.
Lewiss, RE, Egan, DJ, Shreves, A.. “Vascular abdominal emergencies”. Emerg Med Clin North Am.. vol. 29. 2011 May. pp. 253-72.
Longo, DL, Fauci, AS, Kasper, DL. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 2015.
McGee, S.. Evidence-based Physical Diagnosis. 2007.
What causes mucus in stools?
Share on PinterestVisible mucus in stool could indicate a disease.
The mucous membrane of the large intestine helps stool to pass. A “normal” bowel movement will not produce much mucus. Yellow or clear mucus is present in such little amounts that the naked eye would not notice it.
When stool has visible mucus, it can be a sign of bacterial infections, anal fissures, a bowel obstruction, or Crohn’s disease. This type of warning sign is the body’s way of saying stop, look, and listen.
Other signs to look for:
- Increased amounts of mucus
- Blood or pus in the stool
- Stomach pain, cramping, or bloating
- Sudden changes in stool frequency, consistency, or color
If the problem is obvious or persists, the next step is a call to the doctor.
Dehydration and constipation can cause mucus from the colon to leave the body. This gives the stool the appearance of increased mucus.
Increased mucus can also be a sign of illness, especially if inflammation occurs and the mucous membrane breaks down. This leaves the body more open to infection.
The complications of mucus in stool depend on the underlying cause.
Here are some possible causes of mucus in stool.
More common than other issues, bacterial infections are usually caused by bacteria such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, and Yersinia. These bacteria are often the cause of food poisoning and other infections. Signs include:
Some cases can be quite serious, and medication from a doctor is recommended. Other cases can be treated at home and must run their course.
Anal fissures and ulcers
An anal fissure is a tear in the lining of the lower rectum. They are caused by persistent diarrhea, tough stools, and other difficult bowel situations.
An anal fissure can cause painful bowel movements, but they are not that serious. There are over-the-counter remedies to lessen pain, and most clear up within a few days to weeks.
Ulcers have similar qualities to anal fissures. If undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy, the body may suffer from a more severe loss of mucus called gastrointestinal mucositis.
This condition may require hospital treatment.
More natural day-to-day symptoms like cramps, constipation, and gas or bloating can be signs of a bowel obstruction. Possible causes could be an impacted stool, hernia, tumor, or the passing of a non-food item.
Any increase in this type of activity should be reported to a doctor. If it does not clear up in a decent timeframe, hospital treatment may be necessary.
Irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease
Share on PinterestIrritable bowel syndrome can increase the amount of mucus that appears in stool.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may increase mucus production. This symptom is more common in people with diarrhea-predominant IBS than those with constipation-predominant IBS.
Ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), can result in the mucous membrane of the large intestine becoming inflamed and developing ulcers. These ulcers can bleed and may also produce pus and mucus.
Crohn’s disease is far less likely to produce increased amounts of mucus in stool. Increased mucus could be due to another issue like an anal fissure that may require a medical consultation.
Food allergies, such as those associated with nuts, lactose, or gluten, can cause mucus in the stool. Certain food items may cause discomfort and the following symptoms:
A doctor will help determine whether it is a food allergy or intolerance, which can often be confused. People should contact a doctor if a noticeable increase in mucus or blood in a bowel movement occurs after eating a certain food.
317 Possible Causes for Fatigue, Low Back Pain, Mucus in Stool, Rectovaginal Fistula
Causes of Mucus in the Stools & Abdominal Pain
Small amounts of mucus in the stool are often normal. MayoClinic.com describes the lining of the intestines and colon as coated in a jelly-like substance that acts as a lubricant. When the intestines get irritated by any number of things the result can be some abdominal pain with mucus in the stool. Frequent bowel movements, especially those associated with an infection, have a greater likelihood of containing mucus.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is difficult to diagnose, according to American Family Physician. It can have many causes that are hard to identify including food allergy or intolerance. Symptoms of IBS often include bloating, abdominal pain that only ends with elimination and mucus in the stool. Patients with IBS may feel a strong urge to eliminate but, following the bowel movement, feel as if there is more stool to pass.
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are two common inflammatory bowel diseases that can cause mucus in the stool and abdominal pain. Ulcerative colitis affects the large intestine and rectum, explains the National Institutes of Health. It occurs when these tissues become inflamed and develop open wounds, called ulcers. Crohn’s disease is similar to ulcerative colitis in the type of digestive response it produces. It can affect the entire digestive tract, from the mouth to the rectum. Crohn’s sufferers often have an overactive immune system that treats normal particles in the digestive tract as foreign substances that should be attacked like an infectious agent. This causes persistent inflammation. Common symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases include:
- mucus in the stool
- rectal bleeding
- blood in the stool
- abdominal pain
- frequent bouts of diarrhea
Bacterium and viruses can cause abdominal pain and mucus in the stools. These infectious agents can also cause:
- body aches
- general feelings of illness
The National Institutes of Health point out several common viral agents to include astrovirus, norovirus and rotavirus. Common bacterial infections of the stomach and digestive tract include helicobacter pylori, E. coli and salmonella. These infections can be contracted through consuming contaminated items, such as raw meats or mishandled produce.