What is rectal bleeding?
Rectal bleeding is the appearance of blood from the anus or rectum.
It most often occurs with a bowel movement, but occasionally the bleeding appears spontaneously in the underwear. The color of the blood helps determine where it is coming from. Bright red blood on the toilet tissue, in the underwear, or on the stool is usually coming from the rectum or anus. Maroon blood mixed with the stool is usually coming from higher in the colon. Black blood in the stool is most commonly due to upper gastrointestinal bleeding.
When should I see a doctor about rectal bleeding?
All rectal bleeding should be evaluated. It should not be ignored. Large volume bleeding, especially when associated with weakness or light headedness, requires urgent evaluation through the emergency department of the nearest hospital. Low volume bleeding can be electively evaluated.
Depending on your symptoms and risk factors, a colonoscopy may be needed to determine the exact cause of the bleeding. You can make an appointment to see your primary care doctor, or you can make an appointment directly with a gastroenterologist. My office number is (972) 758-5484.
What are some causes of rectal bleeding?
Rectal bleeding can be quite shocking especially when it is unexpected and large volume. Many patients have seen a small amount of bright red blood on the toilet paper after a hard bowel movement. This type of bleeding is usually due to hemorrhoids or a fissure (tear in the anal lining). It should be investigated at a convenient time to determine the source of the blood. Large volume bleeding, where to toilet bowl becomes filled with blood, is an emergency and requires immediate medical attention. Some causes of rectal bleeding include:
- Anal fissure
- Colon polyps
- Colon cancer
- Infectious Colitis
- Ischemic Colitis
- Ulcerative Colitis
- Crohn’s Disease
- Arteriovenous malformations
- Small intestinal lesions (tumors and diverticula)
- Peptic Ulcers (black stools)