Finding blood in your stool can be alarming. Prompt diagnosis is essential.
Finding blood in your stool can be alarming. Often, the underlying cause can be treated or controlled. Even if the cause isn't serious, early diagnosis is important.
Causes are varied
Bleeding from your rectum can occur for many reasons, including:
In addition, iron supplements, certain foods — such as beets, licorice or blueberries — and some medications — such as bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) — may change the color of your stools to red, maroon or black.
When to see your doctor
Consult your doctor at the first sign of rectal bleeding. Often, the bleeding is temporary and easily treated. Sometimes, however, the bleeding may be a warning sign of something more serious. Prompt diagnosis and treatment could save your life. Treatment depends on what's causing your bleeding.
What are artificial sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners are chemicals that offer the sweetness of sugar without the calories. Because the substitutes are much sweeter than sugar, it takes a much smaller quantity of them to create the same sweetness. Therefore, products made with artificial sweeteners have a much lower calorie count than do those made with sugar. Artificial sweeteners are often used as part of a weight-loss plan or as a means to control weight gain.
People with diabetes may use artificial sweeteners because they make food taste sweet without raising blood sugar levels. But keep in mind that if you do have diabetes, some foods containing artificial sweeteners, such as sugar-free yogurt, can still affect your blood sugar level due to other carbohydrates or protein in the food. In addition, some foods labeled "sugar-free" — such as sugar-free cookies and chocolates — may contain sweeteners such as sorbitol or mannitol that contain calories and can affect your blood sugar level. Some sugar-free products may also contain flour, which will raise blood sugar levels.
Safety of artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are often the subject of stories in the popular press and on the Internet, claiming that they cause a variety of health problems, including cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, however, there's no scientific evidence that any of the artificial sweeteners approved for use in the United States cause cancer. And numerous studies confirm that artificial sweeteners are safe for the general population.
Aspartame does carry a cautionary note, however. It isn't safe for people who have the rare hereditary disease phenylketonuria (PKU). Products that contain aspartame must carry a PKU warning on the label.
Last Updated: 04/27/2007
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