Nobody wants to think about rectal bleeding. But it’s an important topic because it is a commonly encountered problem that patients bring up with their doctors.
When discussing rectal bleeding with their care team, patients ask whether it is a sign of a health problem. Seeing blood anywhere on your body can be upsetting. Still, it can feel especially problematic when you see blood in the toilet or on the toilet paper you use to wipe yourself after a bowel movement.
Fortunately, the care providers at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants in The Woodlands, Texas, including Dr. Ilyas Memon, are experts at answering your questions about rectal bleeding. Here, they provide information about this symptom, including some important context on what it could signify for your gastrointestinal health.
Rectal bleeding is blood that comes out of your anus. However, although it comes out of your body via your anus, it may actually originate farther up in your digestive system.
Also known as hematochezia, rectal bleeding can appear in different ways. The blood may range in color from bright red to brownish, it may occur once or regularly, and it may or may not be accompanied by other symptoms, such as abdominal pain or cramping.
If you have rectal bleeding, note factors such as the blood color, frequency of bleeding, and other symptoms. This information will help your care provider identify the cause of your bleeding.
Rectal bleeding can have many causes, and the blood can come from a range of sources. Some common causes of rectal bleeding include:
Colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps: Cancerous tumors or polyps (precancerous growths) in the colon, rectum, or anus may cause bleeding.
Diverticulitis: This is a condition that occurs when pouches in your colon become inflamed or infected. In some cases, diverticular pouches may bleed.
Fissures: Tears in the lining of the anus, which are called fissures, can bleed, especially during or after a bowel movement. Anal fissures may be caused by constipation.
Hemorrhoids: Also known as piles, hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in your anus or rectum.
Inflammatory bowel diseases: These include ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, two conditions that can damage the delicate lining of the bowels and may lead to bleeding.
Ulcers: Ulcers within the digestive tract may sometimes cause bleeding
Although some causes of rectal bleeding, such as hemorrhoids, are relatively benign, you should always tell your care provider about any rectal bleeding you may experience so it can be evaluated and treated, if necessary.
If a more serious condition causes rectal bleeding, identifying that condition early could help prevent uncomfortable symptoms or even save your life.
After performing an exam and asking you about your rectal bleeding symptoms, your care provider may order testing, such as colon cancer screening or a colonoscopy, to learn more about your condition.
Once your provider identifies the source of your rectal bleeding, they recommend a personalized treatment plan to address your symptoms.
To schedule a rectal bleeding evaluation or any other type of gastrointestinal checkup or care, we invite you to call 281-764-9500 or book an appointment online.