How Serious Is Rectal Bleeding?

How Serious Is Rectal Bleeding?

If you notice blood in the toilet bowl, in your stool, or on the paper after you wipe, take notice. Rectal bleeding can indicate hemorrhoids, anal fissures, ulcers, colorectal cancer, and inflammatory bowel disease. Some of these conditions are life-threatening, and all can be uncomfortable and of concern. 

A one-off tiny bit of blood when you wipe is likely of no real concern, but if you notice rectal bleeding consistently or it’s accompanied by other symptoms like abdominal pain, make an appointment with us at GastroDoxs right away. When the cause of your rectal bleeding is identified early, you have the best chance of resolving it and preventing serious complications. 

If you have rectal bleeding, our gastroenterologist, Dr. Bharat Pothuri, will evaluate your digestive tract. If your bleeding is due to hemorrhoids or anal fissures, he can offer treatment so you find relief. If something more serious is going on, he can offer diagnosis and management of the condition. 

Why blood in the stool is a cause for concern

Blood in your stool can be caused by a benign condition, like hemorrhoids. These swollen blood vessels can rupture and cause bright red blood that is visible when wiping or coats the outside of your stool. Anal fisues cause a burning and tearing sensation as you use the restroom; they may also create bright red blood on your stool or on the toilet paper. 

Hemorrhoids and anal fissures can be incredibly uncomfortable, but can usually be resolved with minimally invasive treatments including lifestyle management, ointments, and changes in bathroom habits.

Blood in the stool can indicate problems with your colon, however. Colon cancer, polyps, colitis, and diverticulitis are all possible reasons blood shows up in the bowl. Inflammation of the colon due to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may also cause blood in your stool. 

Without treatment, these colon conditions can cause serious complications. Colon polyps can turn into cancer. Colitis and IBD can result in severe dehydration, weight loss, inflammation, and bone loss. Diverticulitis can result in colon perforation, abscesses, and bowel obstruction. Of course, colon cancer can be deadly -- causing almost 53,000 deaths per year. 

Rectal bleeding isn’t always bright red

Rectal bleeding doesn’t always show up as bright red streaks. If you notice a black coloring in your stool, it may indicate bleeding higher up in the digestive tract. Diarrhea medication and iron supplements may be a simple explanation for black in your stool, but it’s always smart to check in with Dr. Pothuri to check if bleeding in the stomach or from an ulcer is the cause. 

Tests we perform to evaluate rectal bleeding

If an external physical exam reveals no hemorrhoids or anal fissures, he may order more in-depth imaging tests to identify the reason for your rectal bleeding. These may include an anoscopy to examine the lower rectum and anus, a colonoscopy to view your entire colon, and ultrasound to evaluate your stomach. 

Rectal bleeding is not a symptom to ignore, as it can be an indication of a serious condition. If you’re experiencing rectal bleeding, get in touch with our office or make an appointment online

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