Definition

What is rectal bleeding ?

Rectal bleeding can refer to any blood that passes from your anus, although rectal bleeding is usually assumed to refer to bleeding from your lower colon or rectum. Your rectum makes up the last few inches of your large intestine.

Rectal bleeding may show up as blood in your stool, on the toilet paper or in the toilet bowl. Blood that results from rectal bleeding is usually bright red in color, but occasionally can be dark maroon.

How common is rectal bleeding ?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of rectal bleeding ?

The most apparent sign of rectal bleeding is red blood on toilet tissue or visible blood or red-tinged stool in the toilet bowl. However, it is important you pay attention to the coloring of the blood (and the color of your stools) as it can indicate different things:

  • Bright red blood indicates bleeding somewhere in the lower gastrointestinal tract, such as the colon or rectum.
  • Dark red or wine-colored blood may indicate bleeding in the small intestine or early portion of the colon.
  • Black, tarry stools may indicate bleeding from the stomach or the upper part of the small intestine.

Additional symptoms associated with rectal bleeding include:

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

You should contact your doctor if you have any of the following:

  • Your child has blood in their poo
  • You’ve had blood in your poo for 3 weeks
  • Your poo has been softer, thinner or longer than normal for 3 weeks
  • You’re in a lot of pain around the bottom
  • You have a pain or lump in your tummy
  • You’ve been more tired than usual
  • You’ve lost weight for no reason

Get an urgent appointment if:

  • Your poo is black or dark red
  • You have bloody diarrhoea for no obvious reason

Causes

What causes rectal bleeding ?

Rectal bleeding may occur for many reasons. Common causes of rectal bleeding include:

  • Anal fissure (tear in the skin of the anus)
  • Chronic constipation
  • Hard stools
  • Hemorrhoids

Less common causes of rectal bleeding:

  • Anal cancer
  • Angiodysplasia (abnormalities in the blood vessels near the intestines)
  • Colon cancer
  • Colon polyps
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diarrhea (causing anal irritation)
  • Diverticulosis (a bulging pouch that forms on the wall of the intestine)
  • Ischemic colitis (colon inflammation caused by reduced blood flow)
  • Proctitis (inflammation of the rectum)
  • Pseudomembranous colitis (colon inflammation caused by an infection)
  • Radiation therapy
  • Rectal cancer
  • Solitary rectal ulcer syndrome (a sore on the wall of the rectum)
  • Ulcerative colitis

Risk factors

What increases my risk for rectal bleeding ?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is rectal bleeding  diagnosed?

The GP will check what’s causing your symptoms.

They might:

  • Check your bottom (rectum) with a gloved finger
  • Ask for a sample of poo for testing
  • Refer you to a specialist for tests

How is rectal bleeding  treated?

Rectal bleeding treatments depend upon the cause and severity.

You may relieve the pain and discomfort of hemorrhoids by taking warm baths. Applying over-the-counter or prescription creams can also reduce irritation. Your doctor may perform more invasive treatments if your hemorrhoid pain is severe or the hemorrhoids are very large. These include rubber band ligation, laser treatments, or surgical removal of the hemorrhoid.

Like hemorrhoids, anal fissures may resolve on their own. Using stool softeners can address issues with constipation and help anal fissures to heal. Infections can require antibiotic therapy to eliminate the bacteria.

Colon cancers may require more invasive and long-term treatments, such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to remove the cancer and reduce the risk of recurrence.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage rectal bleeding ?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with rectal bleeding :

  • Eating high-fiber foods (unless otherwise directed by your doctor)
  • Exercising regularly to prevent constipation
  • Keeping the rectal area clean
  • Staying well hydrated

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: January 2, 2018 | Last Modified: January 2, 2018

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