What is Rectal Bleeding?

Rectal bleeding can refer to any blood that passes from your rectum or anus, although rectal bleeding is usually assumed to refer to bleeding from your lower colon or rectum. Bleeding may be found in the stool, in the toilet bowl, or on toilet paper. Blood color can appear bright red or dark maroon. Bleeding higher up in the digestive tract may make stool appear black and tarry.

What Causes Rectal Bleeding?

Rectal bleeding can be caused by medical conditions as minor as hemorrhoids and as serious as colorectal cancer. Blood in stool means there is bleeding somewhere in your digestive tract. Sometimes the amount of blood is so small that it can only be detected by a fecal occult test. At other times, it may be visible on toilet tissue or in the toilet after a bowel movement.

Possible causes of rectal bleeding may include:

  • Angiodysplasia 
  • Anal Fissure
  • Colitis
  • Constipation
  • Esophageal problems
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Peptic Ulcer
  • Polyps or cancer
  • Proctitis

What are the Symptoms of Rectal Bleeding?

The most apparent symptom of rectal bleeding is blood on tissue paper, in the toilet bowl, or in stool.

Additional symptoms associated with rectal bleeding may include:

  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Rectal pain or pressure

What is the Treatment for Rectal Bleeding?

It's important to have a doctor evaluate any bleeding in the stool. Locating the source of the bleeding will determine treatment. 

For example, a black, tarry stool is likely an ulcer or other problem in the upper part of the digestive tract. Bright red blood or maroon-colored stools usually indicate a problem in the lower part of the digestive tract, such as hemorrhoids or diverticulitis. 

Depending on the source, rectal bleeding may stop on its own. If heavy or regular bleeding occurs, consult with your provider.

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