Rectal Bleeding: Causes and Treatments
If you have seen blood in the toilet after a bowel movement, or on the toilet paper after you wipe, this may or may not be a serious problem. In most cases, the blood will appear bright red. It might also be accompanied by stools that are maroon in color. And while pain or discomfort may occur with the bowel movement, it also might not.
Minor rectal bleeding is typically caused by abrasions on the outside of the anus, which often clear up without treatment, as well as hemorrhoids (a swollen vein or veins in the rectum or anus) or anal fissures (tears in the anal tissue). It’s important to pay close attention to any blood you see in your stool because, if it’s coming from the colon or further up the gastrointestinal tract, it could indicate a more serious problem. Mild cases of rectal bleeding will usually clear up within a day or two either without treatment or with over-the-counter medications.
What triggers rectal bleeding?
There are several likely causes of mild rectal bleeding that does not require treatment, such as temporary constipation or hemorrhoids, as well as dehydration, which can result in hard stools that injure the anus or rectum while passing. In most cases, the bleeding stops once the underlying cause has been resolved.
On the other hand, cases that require a physician’s attention include:
- Cancer in the colon, rectum, or anus. When diagnosed early, which may require a colonoscopy, these are among the more treatable forms of cancer. With colorectal cancer and many types of anal cancer, the growth rate is very slow, which is why early diagnosis is so important.
- Colon polyps. Polyps are small growths of cells that sometimes form on the lining of the colon. For the most part, they are benign and harmless, especially when detected early. Over time, however, some polyps can develop into colon cancer. Typically, polyps can be seen easily and removed during a colonoscopy.
- Crohn’s disease. A type of inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s causes inflammation along the digestive tract resulting in severe diarrhea, pain in the abdomen, fatigue, and even malnutrition. It can occur in several different areas of the digestive tract. The inflammation often extends deep into the layers of the bowel tissue, leading to debilitating pain.
- This condition is also known as diverticular disease, and occurs when pockets called diverticula create bulges in the walls of the digestive tract, usually the colon. If material gets trapped in these pockets during digestion, it can cause pain and inflammation, a condition known as diverticulitis. Diverticulosis is often undetected unless it shows up on an x-ray or during a colonoscopy.
- Ulcerative colitis. Patients suffering from ulcerative colitis often experience diarrhea, abdominal cramping, pain and/or bleeding in the rectum, and problems with bowel movements, including an inability to defecate despite a feeling of urgency.
- Anal fissures. An anal fissure is when a small tear forms in the thin lining of the anus or mucosa. It often happens as a result of passing hard or large stools, causing pain and bleeding during a bowel movement. Usually, this condition gets better with simple treatment.
What you should do.
For non-severe cases of constipation, the best action you can take is to start eating plenty of fiber-rich foods – such as leafy greens, fresh fruit, whole-grain breads, and nuts – and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Also, try to maintain regular bowel habits.
To treat non-severe hemorrhoids, get up and walk around every so often if you sit a lot. Fiber-rich foods are also important when you have hemorrhoids, and avoid heavy lifting as much as possible. Also, when going to the bathroom, don’t push too strenuously or for to long during a bowel movement.
If you experience severe abdominal pain or a fever with rectal bleeding, see a doctor as quickly as possible as this may indicate a problem that needs immediate attention. You should also see a physician if you experience black, tarry stool or persistent bleeding from the rectum or anus, or get dizzy while you have any of these symptoms.
The Center for Advanced Gastroenterology
At the Center for Advanced Gastroenterology, we have dedicated our practice to providing effective diagnostic and treatment solutions for issues of the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract and liver for our patients. These issues include such conditions as:
- Viral hepatitis
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Persistent diarrhea
- Rectal bleeding
- Acid reflux/GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
- Gastritis/abdominal pain
- Severe nausea
- Ulcerative colitis
Convenient Locations and Caring Staff
In addition to the treatment we provide, we are also committed to your physical and emotional comfort. We have six locations throughout Central Florida for your convenience, and our highly specialized physicians and clinical staff members take the time to listen to you and make sure you understand your diagnosis and any treatment we may prescribe.
The procedures we offer include:
- Diagnostic colonoscopy
- Colon cancer screening
- Upper endoscopy
- Capsule endoscopy
- Banding of internal hemorrhoids