Occult blood in stool is impossible to see with the naked eye and requires a fecal occult test that detects hidden blood in feces sample, according to WebMD. Sometimes people can see blood in their stool, however.
Bright red blood on the toilet paper after wiping or in the toilet bowl after a bowel movement is a sign that a patient has blood in the stool, WebMD reports. The bright red blood generally signifies bleeding in the lower intestinal tract. Bleeding from further up in the digestive tract makes the tool appear black and tarry rather than red.
Patients who see blood in their stool should discuss it with a doctor, but it does not necessarily mean something serious is wrong, WebMD explains. A variety of conditions can cause blood in the stool, including tears in the lining of the anus that occur when a person attempts to pass a hard stool, esophageal disease and peptic ulcers. It can also signal both benign and cancerous polyps in the colon.
Often someone with blood in the stool has no other symptoms and is unaware of the problem, WebMD says. Depending on the source of the bleeding, other symptoms may be present, such as diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fainting and weight loss.