If you have rectal bleeding, it means you’re passing blood from your anus. It is usually assumed that this condition results from the rectum or the lower colon. The rectum is located at the very bottom of the large intestine.
If you notice there’s blood in your stool, in the toilet bowl, or the toilet paper you have used, this means you’re suffering from rectal bleeding. It is typically bright red in color, but can also be dark maroon or tarry.
What Causes Rectal Bleeding?
There are many reasons why rectal bleeding occurs, but the most common ones include:
- Tea in the skin of the anus known as anal fissure
- Very hard stools
- Chronic constipation
Other causes that are less common include:
- Anal cancer
- Colon cancer
- Abnormalities near the intestinal blood vessels known as angiodysplasia
- Colon polyps
- Inflammation in the gallbladder or cholecystitis
- Radiation therapy
- Ulcerative colitis
- Infection-related colon inflammation known as ganglion cyst
- Ischemic colitis
Aside from the visible blood you can find in your stool, toilet bowl, or tissue paper, there are also other symptoms associated with rectal bleeding such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Constipation and straining
- Skin problems, including itching
- Swelling around the anal area
Treatment for rectal bleeding will typically depend on the cause of the bleeding. It is advised to seek medical help immediately if rectal bleeding comes with signs of shock, including fainting, confusion, blurry vision, dizziness, rapid and shallow breathing, low urine output, and nausea. These are usually a result of too much blood loss. It is also important to go to the emergency room if bleeding is heavy or doesn’t stop and is accompanied by anal and abdominal pain. While waiting to consult your doctor, there are some home treatments that can be helpful in stopping rectal bleeding including:
- Drinking eight to 10 glasses of water every day
- Avoiding straining when moving the bowels
- Bathing or showering to cleanse the anal skin
- Eating more fiber-rich foods, including leafy greens
- Decreasing time when sitting on the toilet to eliminate
- Taking a sitz bath
- Applying ice packs on the anal area for pain reduction
- Avoiding alcohol and caffeine which can both contribute to dehydration
It is recommended to take note of the symptoms as well as the color of the blood and the stool consistency. When you go to the doctor, you will mostly have a rectal exam and tests like colonoscopy unless the cause is obvious such as hemorrhoids or constipation.