As you will see below, there can be many reasons for bleeding from stool or rectum, and some of them are quite serious.
What is blood coming from stool and rectum, what does it mean?
If you finish your toilet and notice a small amount of bright red or blackish blood in the toilet bowl, toilet paper, or stool, you may be experiencing bleeding from the stool and rectum , also called rectal bleeding .
There are many causes of rectal bleeding and it can occur as a result of a weaker or abnormal area along your digestive tract. According to the Cleveland Clinic , hemorrhoids (piles) are the most common cause of blood in the stool and rectum.
While these and other causes are minor inconveniences, if you’re losing too much blood it could be a sign of a real problem.
What are the causes of blood coming from stool and rectum?
Here are the reasons why there is blood coming from the stool and the anus:
1- Diverticular disease
Here, small sacs or pockets called diverticula develop in and protrude from the intestinal lining. It is common in older individuals and is thought to be caused by the passage of hard stools as a result of weakening of the colon wall over time.
Diverticular disease usually does not cause symptoms, but the diverticula will sometimes become infected or bleed. About 15% of people with this disease notice blood coming from the stool and the anus. However, the problem usually does not cause pain and in about 80% of cases the condition resolves on its own. Bleeding that does not go away may require hospital monitoring and blood transfusion.
2- Anal fissure
This is a small tear or cut in the thin, moist lining of the anus, usually as a result of passing a hard or large stool. This can cause blood in the stool and anus and cause pain. Most anal fissures resolve without treatment, although sometimes medication or surgery is required, especially if simple changes such as increased dietary fiber intake are made.
3- Ulcerative colitis
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease characterized by chronic inflammation and ulceration of the innermost lining of the colon and rectum. In some cases, it can cause blood in the stool and anus. Symptoms develop gradually, but the condition can be debilitating and even life-threatening. No cure has yet been developed, but treatment of symptoms is usually effective.
4- Angiodysplasia of the colon
This condition is characterized by a change in aging blood vessels in the colon that become brittle, swollen and broken, resulting in bleeding and can cause blood in the stool and rectum. Bleeding may be slow and eventually cause anemia, or it may be severe and require hospital monitoring and blood transfusions.
5- Peptic leaves
A peptic ulcer is a sore in the stomach or duodenum. It is usually the result of infection by the organism Helicobacter pylori or the continued use of anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin . The most common symptom is stomach pain, which can be exacerbated by stress or eating spicy foods.
Hemorrhoid means swollen vein. These swollen veins are found in the anus or rectum and are the most likely cause of blood in the stool and rectum. It is usually caused by common problems such as constipation or childbirththe areaHemorrhoids are not dangerous, but if they become bothersome, multiple treatment options are available.
7- Colon polyps and cancer
Polyps are small growths that form in the lining of the colon. They are usually benign, but they can increase in size, begin to bleed, and potentially develop into cancer, leading to bowel cancer . This can be fatal if the cancer is not discovered until it is advanced.
Rectal cancer is cancer that occurs in the last part of the colon. Bowel and rectal cancers are collectively called colorectal cancers. Anyone can develop colon polyps, although the risk is increased in people 50 and older who smoke, are overweight, or have a family history of colon polyps or bowel cancer.
Colorectal cancer often causes bleeding that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Therefore, it is important to have regular screening for this disease as polyps found early in the course of the disease can often be removed, thus preventing the development of cancer in many cases.
When should you see a doctor?
Bleeding from stool and rectum, if severe, can constitute a medical emergency. You should go to the emergency room if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- cold, clammy skin
- Continuous bleeding
- painful abdominal cramps
- rapid breathing
- severe anal pain
- severe nausea
You should make an appointment to see your doctor if you experience less severe bleeding, such as bleeding from small drops of blood in the rectum. However, it is important to seek treatment in the early stages, as a small amount of bleeding can quickly turn into a large amount.
How is the cause of blood coming from stool and rectum diagnosed?
Your doctor will start by asking you about your symptoms. Questions may include when you first noticed the bleeding, the symptoms you experienced and what color the blood was.
Doctors usually do a visual or physical exam to check the affected area. This may involve inserting a gloved, lubricated finger into the anus to check for abnormalities such as hemorrhoids.
Sometimes rectal bleeding may require endoscopic procedures. This involves attaching a thin, flexible light instrument to the anus. At the end of the instrument is a camera that allows the doctor to view the area to detect any signs of bleeding.
Examples of endoscopic procedures to view rectal bleeding include sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.
How is blood coming from stool and rectum treated?
Treatment of stool and rectal bleeding depends on the cause and severity.
You can ease the pain and discomfort of hemorrhoids by taking a warm bath. Applying over-the-counter or prescription creams can also reduce irritation.
If your hemorrhoid pain is severe or the hemorrhoids are very large, your doctor may recommend more invasive treatments. These include rubber band ligation, laser treatments, and surgical removal of the hemorrhoid (hemoridectomy).
Like hemorrhoids, anal fissures can resolve on their own. Stool softeners that should be used can be good for problems such as constipation and anal fissures. Infections may require antibiotic treatment to eliminate bacteria.
Colon cancers may require more invasive and long-term treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy and radiation to remove the cancer and reduce the risk of recurrence.
Remember, your doctor will decide which medicine to take.
How to prevent bleeding from stool and rectum?
The best way to prevent stool and rectal bleeding is to prevent its main causes. To prevent hemorrhoids, it’s important to keep your stools soft so they can pass easily. To do this, drink plenty of fluids and eat a diet high in fiber. Go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge and avoid straining to pass stool. Also, limit the time you sit on the toilet.
Anal fissures can be prevented by avoiding irritating the rectum and wiping the area with soft wipes, a damp cloth or cotton pad. Do not use hard or smelly toilet paper.
People at high risk of colorectal cancer should undergo regular screening, especially colonoscopy. Colorectal cancer scans can detect precancerous polyps in the colon or rectum so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Scans can detect colorectal cancer early when treatment is more likely to be successful.