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:
- tears in the anus,
- inflammatory bowel diseases,
- 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:
- abdominal pain,
- weight loss,
- decreased appetite,
- dark or tarry stools, or
- rectal pain.
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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Symptoms and Signs: Rectal BleedingRectal bleeding is blood passed rectally. Blood in the stool can be bright red or maroon in color. Larger amounts of blood that remain in the intestine long enough can turn the stool black. Blood in the stool also may be invisible to the naked eye (occult).
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When Should You Worry About Rectal Bleeding?Most of the time, rectal bleeding is not caused by a serious medical condition, but the only way to be sure is to see a doctor for evaluation.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.