Rectal Bleeding: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Fact Checked

Rectal bleeding doesn’t necessarily mean that the anus or rectum is

bleeding. It can be associated with any blood that passes from the anus (stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum, and anus). However, it is typically referred to bleeding from the lower colon or rectum. It can be seen in the stool, toilet bowl or toilet paper. The intensity depends on its site of origin, quantity of blood passed, among others.Its medical name is hematochezia.

Causes of Rectal Bleeding

Rectal bleeding is a fairly common occurrence. Bleeding typically comes from the gastrointestinal tract with the small intestine as the least likely culprit. It does not usually require medical treatment as most causes are treatable and not serious.

  • Hemorrhoids (Piles): swollen blood vessels in the rectum
  • Colon cancer and polyps
  • Anal cancer
  • Anal fissure: tear in anal skin
  • Diverticulitis:formation of small bulges in the lining of the lower bowel
  • Gastroenteritis: bacterial or viral infection of the stomach
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s Disease
  • Ulcer
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Rectal inflammation (proctitis)

Symptoms of Rectal Bleeding

Although often of no medical emergency, rectal bleeding is a symptom for many life-threatening diseases, such as colorectal cancer, therefore it is seek medical attention. Some of the symptoms of rectal bleeding include:

  • The closer the bleeding site is to the anus, the brighter red the blood tends to be
    • Bright red blood coating the stool is associated to be from the sigmoid colon, rectum and anus. Hence, rectal bleeding is generally red or maroon in color.
    • Dark blood mixed with stool is associated to be from higher in the colon
    • Black, tarry (sticky) and foul stool smelling is associated to be from the stomach and duodenum (first part of small intestine). It is usually called melena.
    • Bright red blood in vomit
    • Slow, progressive bleeding
      • Shortness of breath
      • Gradual fatigue
      • Lethargy
      • Paleness of skin
      • Abrupt, heavy bleeding
        • Shortness of breath
        • Weakness
        • Dizziness
        • Fainting
        • Severe abdominal pain
        • Diarrhea
        • Pale, clammy skin

Treatment for Rectal Bleeding

Rectal Bleeding                In order to determine the appropriate treatment for the rectal bleeding, the location and cause of rectal bleeding should be properly diagnosed. Tests, such as rectal examination and colonoscopy, are used to diagnose the source of rectal bleeding. The main purposes of treatment for rectal bleeding are to stop active bleeding and avoid recurrence of bleeding.

  • For minor bleeding
    • Seek medical attention.
    • Place over-the-counter rectal ointments, though often obtained through prescription.
    • Avoid restraining bowel movements.
    • Apply ice packs on the affected area.
    • For major bleeding
      • Seek medical attention immediately.
      • Monitor symptoms.

To learn more about these kinds of emergencies and how to treat them, it is strongly advised to enroll in First Aid and CPR training located all throughout the country. These lessons do not only teach but include hands on training in cases of emergencies. These courses teach one to recognize and manage medical emergencies, such as in rectal bleeding.

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