Symptoms and Signs of Rectal Bleeding

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 10/29/2021

Doctor's Notes on Rectal Bleeding

Rectal bleeding is blood that is passed with the stool during a bowel movement. Rectal bleeding may be bright red or may be a darker, blackish color. It is also possible to have blood in the stool that is not visible to the naked eye (called occult bleeding). The medical term for rectal bleeding is hematochezia. There are a number of causes of rectal bleeding. Causes may include:

  • hemorrhoids,
  • tears in the anus,
  • inflammatory bowel diseases,
  • ulcers, 
  • ischemic colitis, and
  • polyps or cancers of the intestine or anus.

Rectal bleeding may be associated with other symptoms, depending on the cause of the bleeding. Other associated symptoms may include:

What Is the Treatment for Rectal Bleeding?

Treatment for rectal bleeding depends on the condition that is causing the bleeding and is directed at managing that condition.

  • A number of medications are used to control inflammatory bowel diseases.
  • Compresses, sitz baths, hemorrhoid creams, and ligation are some measures that control bleeding from hemorrhoids.
  • Anal fissures or tears can be treated with ointments or can improve over time.
  • Certain conditions that cause rectal bleeding, including large polyps and cancers, are treated by surgery.
  • Treatment for anemia (low red blood cell count) may be needed if there has been a significant amount of blood loss.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.