It’s understandable to be concerned after noticing bright red blood after you wipe or seeing dark streaks in your stool. Although most causes of rectal bleeding are treatable and not serious threats to your health, rectal bleeding can sometimes indicate a serious medical condition.
If you notice rectal bleeding, it’s important that you bring it to our attention right away. Our gastroenterologist, Dr. Bharat Pothuri, at GastroDoxs in Houston, Texas, is available to diagnose and treat the causes of rectal bleeding.
Here are some of the causes of rectal bleeding — and the solutions.
Rectal bleeding doesn’t always show up the same way. You might see blood on the paper when you wipe, or you might notice the water in your toilet bowl appears red. The color may be bright red or dark red. Rectal bleeding may also show up as dark red or black streaks in your stool. Your stool may also look tarry and dark as a whole.
You may not know you have rectal bleeding until you’ve had a lab test of your stool. This test can sometimes reveal slight traces of blood that indicate a possible medical problem.
Remember that discoloration of your stool isn’t always due to blood. If you recently ate a lot of beets or blueberries, the discoloration could be due to your digestion of these foods and not a medical condition.
Other causes that may require treatment include:
These swollen veins in the rectum or anus develop due to chronic constipation, pregnancy, obesity, and lifting heavy objects. Hemorrhoids are uncomfortable, but are not considered a medical emergency. Over-the-counter ointments are often enough to heal hemorrhoids, but medical intervention is available in more severe cases.
An anal fissure is a tear in the skin around the anus. Regularly straining to poop can split the skin, resulting in rectal bleeding and burning during bowel movements. Usually, anal fissures heal on their own.
Small pouches called diverticula can develop in weak areas of your intestine. When they become inflamed, they cause a break in the bowel wall and cause rectal bleeding as well as abdominal pain and possible infection.
The small glands inside the anus that help you pass stool are susceptible to infection, resulting in an abscess (pocket of pus) or fistula (abnormal passageway that connects the abscess to the anus area.) When these become irritated, bleeding may occur.
Crohn’s disease and colitis are forms of IBD. An estimated 3 million Americans suffer from these serious conditions that lead to swelling and inflammation in the digestive tract, which can cause pain, cramping, diarrhea, intestinal blockages, and rectal bleeding. There is no cure for IBD, but the conditions can be managed by an expert like Dr. Pothuri.
Polyps are growths that develop in the colon. Large polyps cause bleeding and, if not treated, can turn into cancer. A colonoscopy detects polyps. Oftentimes, Dr. Pothuri can also remove polyps at the time of your colonoscopy.
Ulcers are areas of damage in your digestive tract. They develop when your digestive fluids are out of balance. Ulcers can cause bleeding high up in your digestive tract which can result in dark, tarry stool. Dr. Pothuri recommends dietary changes, stress management, and medications to manage ulcers.
If you experience rectal bleeding, contact GastroDoxs right away to rule out any serious causes. Call us today or book an appointment online.