You’re sitting on the toilet, taking care of business. Then, after you wipe and just as you are ready to flush, you see red. No doubt about it: Along with a bowel movement, you also passed blood.
Perhaps you noticed the blood on the toilet paper. Or maybe you saw it floating in the toilet water or around the edges of your stool. No matter where it showed up, you should never assume it’s a minor issue that will take care of itself.
Although occasionally rectal bleeding does turn out to be a minor issue that will take care of itself, there’s no way that you, sitting on the toilet post-poop, can know the seriousness of whatever caused that bleeding. In fact, rectal bleeding can be a sign of a significant — even life-threatening — gastrointestinal problem that may require treatment.
If you have bleeding after bowel movements, the providers here at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants in The Woodlands, Texas, including Dr. Ilyas Memon, hope that you will come in for an evaluation right away. The sooner you know what’s causing your bleeding, the sooner you can take steps to manage it.
Rectal bleeding — anal bleeding or hematochezia — can have many potential causes. Your provider asks you some questions to determine what’s causing your bleeding.
One of the questions concerns the color of the blood. Is it bright or dark? Watery or tarry? Does it look fresh or old? Also, how often does blood appear? Has it happened only once, or does it occur regularly?
Your provider may also ask you about foods you ate, bowel habits, or activities you engaged in before the bleeding appeared. And they will talk with you about other symptoms, such as pain, nausea, vomiting, or bloating.
Here are some of the factors that can cause you to see blood after passing stool:
The treatment your provider recommends depends on what has caused the bleeding.
For example, if bleeding is related to chronic constipation and straining to pass hard stools that tear the lining of your anus, your provider will talk with you about treatment options for constipation. These may include changes in diet, drinking more water, and over-the-counter or prescription constipation medications.
If bleeding is caused by hemorrhoids, which are swollen blood vessels that commonly lead to rectal bleeding, your provider will discuss hemorrhoid treatment options, such as lifestyle changes or minimally invasive surgical procedures.
And if your provider suspects a more serious condition, such as cancer, they will recommend specific testing, such as a colonoscopy, to collect more information.
The cause of rectal bleeding is often treatable, but as with most medical conditions, the sooner it is identified, the easier it is to treat.
Don’t wait to have your rectal bleeding checked by an experienced digestive disease care provider. To schedule an appointment at Texas Digestive Disease Consultants, call 281-764-9500 or book an appointment online.