14 Possible Causes Of Rectal Bleeding, And When To Get Urgent Help If You Have This Symptom

Lifestyle & Health

Bloody stools (usually having red, dark maroon, or black color), blood in the toilet bowl, and blood on the toilet paper are signs of rectal bleeding. The bleeding can be caused by various problems affecting the GI tract, from gastroesophageal reflux disease to anal cancer. More often than not, the cause of rectal bleeding is benign. But rectal bleeding should never be shrugged off as something unimportant, as it may also be a sign of cancer affecting some part of the GI tract.

Below, we list a few possible causes of rectal bleeding and some symptoms that can accompany it.

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Causes of rectal bleeding

Possible causes of rectal bleeding include the following:

1. Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are among the most common causes of rectal bleeding. The term describes enlarged blood vessels in the rectum and/or anus which can bleed. Common causes of hemorrhoids include straining when defecating, chronic constipation, and work strain. In some cases, surgery is needed to treat hemorrhoids.

2. Anal fissures

Anal fissures are tears in the lining of the anus. Anal fissures can cause bleeding and severe pain when pooping. The fissures often heal on their own, but, in some cases, medicines (in the form of rectal suppositories or other forms) or surgery is needed to treat them.

3. Gastroesophageal reflux

Gastroesophageal reflux, or simply acid reflux, can also cause blood to appear in stool. Stomach acid that spills into the esophagus can irritate it and cause bleeding.

4. Stomach ulcers

Stomach ulcers can grow and bleed, and the blood will show up in the stool. People with chronic gastritis often develop stomach ulcers.

5. Inflammatory bowel disease

The two types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, can lead to rectal bleeding. In this conditions, the lining of the GI tract is inflamed and may bleed.

6. Colon polyps

Colon polyps are benign growths that form on the lining of the colon. Polyps that grow large can bleed, causing bloody stools. Benign polyps can become cancerous, this is why they should be removed.

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Other possible causes of rectal bleeding include the following:

  • gastroenteritis;
  • diverticulosis;
  • perianal abscesses;
  • proctitis;
  • ischemic colitis;
  • anal cancer;
  • colorectal cancer;
  • radiation therapy to the abdomen or pelvis.

Symptoms that may appear along with rectal bleeding

Rectal bleeding should always be reported to a doctor. Symptoms that may accompany chronic bleeding include the following:

  • weakness and tiredness;
  • pale skin;
  • anemia (a lack of circulating red blood cells).

Get emergency medical help if rectal bleeding is severe and/or is accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms:

  • severe pain in the abdomen;
  • feeling dizzy or lightheaded;
  • confusion;
  • fast breathing;
  • rapid heart rate;
  • seriously decreased urination.

If you have rectal bleeding and symptoms listed above, don't hesitate to get help, as some of the possible causes of these symptoms are life-threatening.

Source: Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, WebMD

READ ALSO: Warning Symptoms Of Gastrointestinal Bleeding To Watch Out For


This article is solely for informational purposes. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information provided in the article.

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