Rectal bleeding refers to the passage of blood from the rectum or anus. It can vary in severity, ranging from a few drops of blood on the toilet paper after wiping to a large amount of blood in the stool.
Symptoms of Rectal Bleeding
- Blood in the stool
- Blood on the toilet paper after wiping
- Blood in the toilet bowl
- Pain or discomfort in the anal area
- Changes in bowel habits
- Weakness or fatigue
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to see a doctor for an evaluation.
Causes of Rectal Bleeding
Causes of Rectal Bleeding Rectal bleeding can be caused by a variety of factors. Some of the most common causes include:
Hemorrhoids: Swollen veins in the rectum or anus can cause bleeding, especially during bowel movements.
Anal fissures: Small tears in the tissue around the anus can cause bleeding and discomfort.
Inflammatory bowel disease: Conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can cause inflammation and bleeding in the digestive tract.
Polyps and tumors: Noncancerous and cancerous growths in the colon or rectum can cause bleeding.
Diverticulitis: Inflammation or infection of small pouches in the colon can cause bleeding.
Other medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as liver disease and blood clotting disorders, can cause rectal bleeding.
Examples of Rectal Bleeding
Rectal bleeding can vary in severity and appearance, depending on the underlying cause. Here are some examples of what rectal bleeding may look like:
- Bright red blood in bowel movements
- Bright red blood on the toilet paper after wiping
- Dark red blood in the stool
- Maroon-colored stools
- Blood mixed with mucus in the stool
- Blood in the toilet bowl after a bowel movement
- Black, tarry stools (which may indicate bleeding higher up in the digestive tract)
Bright Red Blood in Bowel Movements
The presence of bright red blood in bowel movements can be a sign of several conditions. If you notice red blood in your stool or on toilet paper after wiping, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider to determine the underlying cause. It’s important to note that not all cases of rectal bleeding will have visible blood in the stool or on the toilet paper. Sometimes, rectal bleeding can manifest as a feeling of fullness or discomfort in the rectal area without any visible signs of bleeding.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Rectal Bleeding
Rectal bleeding depend on the underlying cause of the symptom. Here are some possible diagnosis steps:
Medical history and physical exam: Perform a physical exam, including a digital rectal exam, to look for any signs of bleeding or other abnormalities.
Stool tests: Check for signs of infection, inflammation, or other abnormalities.
Imaging studies: Imaging studies such as colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, or CT scans may be used to look for any abnormalities in the colon or rectum.
Biopsy: If an abnormality is found during imaging, a biopsy may be performed to determine if it is cancerous or not.
Treatment options will depend on the underlying cause of the rectal bleeding. Some possible treatments include:
Hemorrhoid treatment: Hemorrhoids can often be treated with over-the-counter medications, such as creams or suppositories, or by making lifestyle changes to reduce constipation and straining during bowel movements.
Medications: If the bleeding is due to inflammatory bowel disease, medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressants, or biologics may be prescribed.
Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat conditions such as diverticulitis or colorectal cancer.
Endoscopic procedures: Endoscopic procedures such as colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy can be used to treat some conditions, such as removing polyps or stopping bleeding.
It’s important to speak with a healthcare provider if you experience rectal bleeding. They can help determine the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment.
Preventing Rectal Bleeding
While not all cases of rectal bleeding can be prevented, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk. These include:
- Eating a healthy diet rich in fiber to prevent constipation
- Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated
- Exercising regularly to promote bowel regularity
- Avoiding straining during bowel movements
- Seeking prompt medical attention if you experience any symptoms of rectal bleeding
Complication of Rectal Bleeding
Rectal bleeding can lead to several complications, especially if the underlying cause is not treated promptly. Some of the complications of rectal bleeding include:
Anemia: Chronic or severe bleeding can cause anemia, which is a condition characterized by low levels of red blood cells. Anemia can cause fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.
Shock: In severe cases, rectal bleeding can cause shock, which is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body doesn’t get enough blood flow.
Infection: Rectal bleeding caused by inflammatory bowel disease or diverticulitis can increase the risk of infection.
Colon cancer: Rectal bleeding can be a symptom of colon cancer, which can spread to other parts of the body if not detected and treated early.
Iron deficiency: Chronic or recurrent rectal bleeding can lead to iron deficiency, which can cause fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.
Emotional distress: Rectal bleeding can cause emotional distress, anxiety, and depression, especially if the cause of bleeding is not identified and treated.
Blood in Stool
Bright red blood in stool: is usually a sign of bleeding in the lower gastrointestinal tract, such as the rectum or anus.
Bright red blood on stool: is a concerning symptom that can be caused by anal fissures, by bleeding on the surface of the poop or on toilet paper after wiping.
Bright red blood with stool: sores in the lining of the stomach or small intestine can cause bleeding, which may appear as bright red blood with poop.
Red blood when passing stool: is a concerning symptom that should be evaluated this can indicate bleeding in the lower gastrointestinal tract, such as the rectum or anus, or in the upper gastrointestinal tract, such as the stomach or small intestine.
Bright blood in stool: can be a sign of bleeding in the lower digestive tract, and it’s important to determine the cause in order to receive appropriate treatment.
See a Doctor
It’s important to seek medical attention if you experience rectal bleeding, especially, if it’s accompanied by other symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, or changes in bowel movements. Doctors can help diagnose the underlying cause of the bleeding and provide appropriate treatment to prevent complications.
In some cases, bright red blood when pooping may resolve on its own with self-care measures, such as increasing fiber intake, drinking plenty of fluids, and avoiding straining during bowel movements. However, if the bleeding is severe, chronic, or associated with other symptoms, medical treatment may be necessary.
In conclusion, blood when passing stool is a concerning symptom that can indicate bleeding in the lower or upper gastrointestinal tract. It’s important to seek medical attention if you experience this symptom, as the underlying cause can range from minor to serious. By taking steps to prevent passing bright red blood when pooping and seeking prompt medical attention, you can help protect your health and wellbeing.