Rectal Bleeding: What's Behind Your Symptoms?

Rectal bleeding is a concerning symptom that deserves a consultation with a specialist like Bharat Pothuri, MD, of GastroDoxs. It can be a sign of a relatively benign issue like hemorrhoids or of something far more serious, like colorectal cancer

Not all rectal bleeding shows up in the same way. Here’s what your symptoms could mean.

How rectal bleeding may look

Rectal bleeding can appear in several different ways. You may notice a slight bit on toilet paper as your wipe, discoloration in your stool, or droplets in the toilet bowl water. 

The color of the blood gives you some clues as to where the bleeding may be coming from. For example, dark red or maroon blood may indicate that you have bleeding higher in the colon or the small intestine. Very dark or tar-like stool may indicate bleeding is occuring in the stomach due to ulcers or another condition. Bright red blood is a sign that bleeding is happening lower in the colon or at the rectum. 

Conditions associated with rectal bleeding

Many conditions can cause rectal bleeding, and some are more serious than others. Since you don’t want to risk missing a serious condition and expert treatment, if you experience rectal bleeding, it’s best to make an appointment with us at GastroDoxs.

Some of the causes of rectal bleeding are:


Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus or rectum. They result from straining during bowel movements, chronic constipation, lifting heavy objects, having anal intercourse, and obesity.

If your hemorrhoids are causing bright red streaks on your toilet paper when you wipe, it’s completely normal -- although possibly uncomfortable. GastroDoxs can help treat your hemorrhoids and resolve your discomfort.

Anal fissure

If you have a tear around the skin of the anus, it’s called an anal fissure. A fissure forms when you pass a very firm, resistant stool. You may notice blood in your stool, in the toilet water, or on toilet paper, and you may feel burning pain during bowel movements. Anal fissures heal on their own. 

Anal abscess or fistula

When the glands inside your anus become infected, they may form an abscess or fistula. We can help you heal these infections and find relief. 

Diverticulosis and diverticulitis

Diverticuli are small pouches that develop in weakened areas of your intestine. If they protrude through the walls of your intestines, they can cause bleeding and infections. Diverticulosis and diverticulitis are manageable conditions. 

Inflammatory bowel disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. IBD is an autoimmune condition that can cause fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and rectal bleeding. IBD is not curable, but the symptoms may be managed with expert guidance and treatments from Dr. Pothuri. 


Ulcers result when your digestive fluids are out of balance, causing damage to the lining of your digestive tract. When ulcers cause bleeding, it appears in your stool as dark and tarry. 

Colon polyps

Colon polyps grow on the inside of your colon. Some of them can turn into cancer if not treated. Rectal bleeding is a sign that you have these polyps and that some may be cancerous. Regular colonoscopies, recommended when you reach age 50, are an important preventive care strategy to protect you from colon cancer.

Rectal bleeding is not something to ignore. If you live around the area of Houston, Texas, and have noticed rectal bleeding, call us today to set up an appointment. Or you can use the online tool to book your visit right now. 

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