Rectal bleeding or haematochezia refers to any blood that passes through the anus, though it is characterized by a bleeding of the lower rectum or colon. The rectum makes up the last several inches of the large intestine. Rectal bleeding might be displayed as blood on the toilet paper, stool, or toilet bowl. The majority of rectal bleeding branch out from the rectum, colon, or anus and is usually linked to diarrhea. The color of the blood depends on the place where the bleeding takes place in the gastrointestinal tract. Typically, the nearer the bleeding location to the anus, the brighter the red color of the blood. This is why bleeding that comes from the anus, sigmoid colon, and rectum tend to be vibrant red while bleeding in the transverse colon and right colon end up as maroon colored or dark red.
Causes of Rectal Bleeding
Blood in the stool display in various colors including vibrant red, maroon, tarry and black, or occult – which means it’s not visible to the naked eye. The causes of rectal bleeding vary from innocuous and exasperating conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract like anal tears/anal fissure and hemorrhoids, from streaking against hard stools due to constipation; to severe diseases like cancer. Rectal bleeding needs to be analyzed by a healthcare provider.
Rectal bleeding might happen due to various reasons. The most prevalent causes of rectal bleeding are the following:
- Hemorrhoids (inflamed and swollen veins in the rectum or anus)
- Anal fissure (a tiny tear found in the anal canal lining)
- hard stools
Less popular causes of rectal bleeding include the following:
- colon cancer
- anal cancer
- colon polyps
- Angiodysplasia (complications in the blood vessels near the intestines)
- Crohn’s disease (a kind of inflammatory bowel disorder)
- Diverticulosis (characterized by a protuberant pouch that develops on the intestinal wall)
- rectal cancer
- radiation therapy
- Ischemic colitis (colon inflammation that results from decreased blood flow)
- Proctitis (inflammation of the rectum lining)
- Ulcerative colitis
- Solitary rectal ulcer syndrome (or rectum ulcer)
- Pseudomembranous colitis (inflammation in the colon caused by a particular infection)
- Esophageal varices
Diagnosis and Treatment
Generally, your healthcare provider, such as your doctor, will start asking questions about the symptoms that you’ve experienced. The questions might revolve around the first visible bleeding you’ve seen, the color of the blood, and other related symptoms you’ve had. Doctors typically carry out a physical or visual examination to evaluate the affected area. This includes the insertion of a gloved and lubricated finger into the anus to look for any signs of complications, like hemorrhoids. There are also times where rectal bleeding needs endoscopic processes. In this method, a thin and bendable lighted scope is inserted into the anus. The device has a tiny camera on its end that enables the healthcare expert to see the area and determine any indications of bleeding. Some examples of endoscopic processes to understand the rectal bleeding are colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy. Additionally, the doctor might also perform a blood test, like complete blood count or CBC, to find out if you’ve misplaced a lot of blood.
Treatments for rectal bleeding vary according to the cause and severity of the condition. You can reduce the discomfort and pain caused by hemorrhoids by taking warm baths. You can also put prescription or over-the-counter creams on the affected area to provide relief to the irritation.
Furthermore, your doctor might carry out more severe treatment procedures in the case that your haemorrhoidal pain progresses to an extreme level, or the hemorrhoids are enormous. These treatments include laser treatments, rubber band litigation, and surgical removal to eliminate hemorrhoids.
Just like hemorrhoids, you can also treat anal fissures on your own. You can utilize stool softeners to eliminate the problems with constipation and speed up the healing of the anal fissures. In terms of infections, you need to undergo antibiotic therapy to kill the bacteria and altogether remove it.
Colon cancers also need more severe and long-term treatment procedures, including radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery, to eliminate the disease and lower the possibility of recurrence.
Additionally, there are a lot of home remedies to combat constipation and decrease the risk of suffering from rectal bleeding. These at-home treatments include the following:
- Ensure that cleanliness is maintained in the rectal area
- Incorporate high-fiber foods in your diet with Benefiber, Metamucil, or prunes, unless your doctor requires you to stay away from such foods.
- Make it a habit to exercise to prevent the occurrence of constipation
- Stay hydrated at all times. Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water every day.
- Reduce streaking with bowel movements.
- Shower or take a bath regularly to cleanse the skin that surrounds your rectal area.
- Don’t sit in the toilet bowl for a prolonged time.
- Try a sitz bath. It is a warm water bath that has enough amount to cover your buttocks and hips area. It can offer relief to several symptoms, including pain, itching, and discomfort that is associated with hemorrhoids.
- Apply ice packs in areas that are affected to lower the pain.
- Stop alcohol consumption since it leads to dehydration, which is the primary reason behind the occurrence of constipation.
What are the normal conditions?
To control the condition, it is incredibly vital to stay hydrated, or your body will go haywire. Drink ample amount of fluids such as water, diluted pear or apple juice, and Emergen-C or vitamin C combined with B vitamins and minerals to prevent electrolyte imbalance and dehydration.
You should also need to remove any pathogenic organisms like harmful bacteria, fungus, yeast, viruses, or parasites, by utilizing a natural antimicrobial/antibiotic treatment like wild oregano oil or olive leaf extract. Wild oregano oil is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and has been used to speed up the healing process. Besides this, rectal bleeding might also be a result of unbalanced or unhealthy bacterial flora in your intestine. Take premium-quality probiotics to support the production of tasty and healthy bacteria in your gut. Once you have balanced bad and harmful bacteria, you’ll have regular bowel movements and stronger shield against infection recurrence.
You should also watch out for signs and indications of intestinal perforation or rupture. If there is any possibility of this from happening, you’ll have a fever, extreme shivering or shaking very shallow abdomen, and constipation – wherein your body is unable to excrete any stool or gas. Keep in mind that intestinal perforation or rupture are very hazardous conditions that will require severe treatment such as surgery, so it is essential that you need to maintain a healthy body to ward off such diseases. If you experience any of these indications, look for emergency medical help as soon as possible.
Risk of Having Rectal Bleeding
There are a lot of factors that can contribute to the development of rectal bleeding. Keep in mind that not all patients with risk factors will experience rectal bleeding. The risk factors that are associated with rectal bleeding cover:
- Old age might lead to degenerated intestinal blood vessels.
- Constipation might result in streaking and dry, hard stools, which can wear the rectum.
- Family history of gastrointestinal illnesses like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which are the prevalent cause of bleeding.
- Alcoholism or extreme alcohol intake is linked with esophageal varices or the swelling of the veins in the esophagus, which could potentially result in a rupture.
- Abdominal gas adds too much pressure to the rectum and could result in bleeding hemorrhoids.
If rectal bleeding gets worse, it could potentially develop into many serious health complications. These include:
- spread of cancer
- Anemia or lower count of red blood cell
- spread of infection
- need for blood transfusion
When to seek medical attention
Contact 911 or emergency medical help if you experience visible rectal bleeding and symptoms of shock, including the following:
- blurred vision
- rapid and shallow breathing
- decreased urine input
- lightheadedness or dizziness right after standing up
- clammy, cold, and pale skin
Ask for instant medical help and have someone drive you to a nearby emergency room in case the rectal bleeding is:
- persistent and heavy
- alongside severe stomach cramping or pain
Set an appointment with your doctor or any health care provider if you experience rectal bleeding for more than one to two days, or earlier if you are worried about the bleeding.
For individuals who are older than 40 years old who experience rectal bleeding, the cause is quite apparent, which is hemorrhoids. These cases of rectal bleeding don’t need any testing. But, there are a lot of doctors that suggest physical exams like colonoscopy among patients who are more than 40 years old to eliminate any potential risk of developing cancer that’s reinforcing the bleeding.