What Is Rectal Bleeding?
Rectal bleeding (medically known as hematochezia) refers to any blood passing from your anus. However, rectal or anal bleeding is commonly assumed to refer to bleeding from the rectum or your colon. It can manifest as blood in your stool, toilet paper, or the toilet bowl. The blood in the stool caused by rectal bleeding from the anus can range from bright red to dark maroon to a dark tarry color.
Rectal bleeding can be a symptom of colorectal or anal cancer, which can be treated if caught early. In addition to a complete physical exam and medical history, colonoscopy is the gold standard for visual evaluation of your colon for an accurate diagnosis. It can detect polyps, mass lesions, abnormalities of the intestine lining, and a variety of other causes of your symptoms.
This condition can also be caused by bleeding hemorrhoids, anal fissures, colitis, or other diagnosable and treatable conditions. Disorders higher up in the digestive tract can also lead to bleeding from the anus.
For these reasons, consulting an experienced gastroenterologist is the first step in determining the underlying causes of rectal bleeding and the best hematochezia treatment options. To perform the proper treatment, we must first correctly diagnose the cause. Internal hemorrhoids and anal fissures are two common causes of rectal bleeding. Colonoscopy, in combination with a thorough physical exam, is the gold standard for visual evaluation of the colon for diagnosis. We can treat these diseases more effectively if we diagnose, detect, and address them early.
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What Are the Symptoms of Rectal Bleeding?
Rectal bleeding symptoms include:
- Straining and constipation
- Abdominal pain
- Swelling around the anus
- Skin problems
- Bloody diarrhea
What Causes Rectal Bleeding?
Rectal bleeding can occur for a variety of reasons, ranging from harmless gastrointestinal tract conditions such as bleeding hemorrhoids and anal fissures to more serious conditions such as cancer.
Rectal bleeding causes include:
- Anal Fissures
- Anal Cancer
- Colon Cancer
- Ulcerative Colitis/Crohn’s Disease
- Solitary Rectal Ulcer (ulcer in the rectum)
- Diverticulosis (a bulging pouch)
- Proctitis (inflammation of the rectum)
- Ischemic colitis (a colon inflammation)
- Infectious Colitis (inflammation of the colon)
Colorectal and anal cancers are more serious causes of rectal bleeding. Colon cancer, the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, begins in the large intestine. Because it is a slow-growing disease, early detection allows us to effectively treat it. Most cases of colon cancer come from polyps in your colon. Finding and removing polyps through a colonoscopy reduces your cancer risk. Anal cancer is less common but also curable when diagnosed early.
Hemorrhoids are inflamed or swollen veins just below the surface of the skin. They can occur around your anus (external hemorrhoids) or inside your anal canal (internal hemorrhoids). Already sensitive, they can easily cause bleeding from the rectum if irritated. Common causes of hemorrhoids are:
- Sitting on the toilet too long
- Straining during bowel movements
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation
- A low-fiber diet
The condition usually is signaled by itching, discomfort, and bleeding from the rectum. If blood pools in an external hemorrhoid, it may form a clot called a thrombosed external hemorrhoid.
Anal fissures are tears in the lining of your anus. They usually appear after bouts of constipation, hard stools, diarrhea, or inflammation. Anal fissures can cause pain during and immediately after a bowel movement and bleeding from the anus. You may also experience spasms in the ring of muscle at the end of your anus.
Proctitis is a medical condition that occurs when the lining of your rectum and the rectal lining become inflamed, potentially leading to pain. The symptom of proctitis can include anus bleeding.
Causes of proctitis include:
- An infection
- Certain medications
- Prior radiation therapy for cancer treatment
- Some forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
Diagnosing Anal Bleeding
Pooping blood or finding bright red blood in the stool is never normal. Our doctors have several options for identifying the source of the problem during your examination. They may:
- Feel for abnormalities within your rectum with a gloved, lubricated finger
- Examine your anus visually and using an anoscope during the physical exam
- Perform a colonoscopy for direct visualization of your colon, which is the gold standard for evaluation
Blood in Stool Treatment
Anal bleeding treatment depends first on finding its cause. For an accurate diagnosis and anus bleeding treatment plan, bleeding from the rectal area should always be evaluated with a thorough consultation and examination by an experienced gastroenterologist. It may be a symptom or sign of a severe illness or condition.
The bleeding rectum can be a symptom of colorectal or anal cancer, both of which can be cured if detected early. The first step is to determine the underlying cause of your rectal bleeding and the best treatment options. You may need a colonoscopy for further evaluation.
If the cause of the condition is bleeding hemorrhoids, our doctors may recommend infrared coagulation (IRC) and other cutting-edge treatments as the definitive response to stubborn hemorrhoids or hemorrhoid banding. If the blood in stool is caused by anal fissures, it can be diagnosed and easily treated in most cases. We will tailor your treatment plan to your needs, but accurate examination, diagnosis, and treatment are critical.
When Should You Worry About Rectal Bleeding?
Bleeding from the rectal area should always be evaluated by a gastroenterologist for an accurate diagnosis and blood in the stool treatment plan, since it may be a symptom or sign of a serious illness or condition.
When should you see a doctor for rectal bleeding? You should seek immediate emergency help if you have significant bleeding from the rectum and any of the following symptoms:
- Rapid and shallow breathing
- Blurred vision
- Dizziness after standing up
- Cold and pale skin
- Low urine output
- Heavy rectal bleeding
- Accompanied by severe abdominal cramping or pain
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Medications Cause Bleeding From Anus?
GI bleeding may result from the use of oral anticoagulants. Hemorrhoidal bleeding can also be associated with medications that lead to constipation. Other triggers and drugs that cause rectal bleeding could be advancing age, the use of multiple medications, drug-drug interactions, and health-related disorders.
Are There Any Home Remedies for Rectal Bleeding?
Bleeding rectum treatment depends on the root cause of the problem. Several natural remedies can help you address bleeding from the anus.
These natural remedies are:
- Relieve constipation
- Calm bleeding hemorrhoids
- Improve ulcerative colitis
- Soften stools
- Reduce your stress level
Even though the recommendations mentioned above are considered helpful, you should talk to your healthcare provider before starting treatment.
Can Stress Cause Bleeding Out of Rectum?
Stress does not typically lead to ulcerative colitis. However, chronic stress can harm your immune system and trigger chronic inflammation. It will increase ulceration and cause bleeding. While it is impossible to eliminate all stress, you can learn how to handle your emotions and stress. Try to avoid the consumption of caffeine and alcohol, which can stimulate intestinal contractions and worsen diarrhea. Caffeine and alcohol might also worsen stress and anxiety.
Is Bright Red Blood in the Stool Worse than Darker Blood?
Are There Any Foods That Can Cause Red or Black Stools?
- Tomato juice or soup
- Red licorice
- Food that is dyed red
Foods that can result in unusually dark stools include:
- Black licorice
- Dark leafy vegetables
- Blood sausage
In addition, certain iron pills or bismuth-containing medications (such as bismuth subsalicylate or Pepto-Bismol) can also change the color of your stool to black or other colors.
Will Rectal Bleeding Go Away on Its Own?
Important Reminder: The only intent of this information is to provide guidance, not definitive medical advice. Please consult a doctor about your specific condition. Only trained, experienced physicians like our doctors can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper rectal bleeding treatment.
Our best-in-class gastroenterologists provide highly personalized and comprehensive care. They have earned some of the most respected reputations in NYC. For more information about the options of rectal bleeding treatment in Upper East Side or Midtown NYC or to schedule an appointment with one of our GI doctors, please contact our offices.