Pin Me

What Causes Rectal Bleeding?

written by: Jacquelyn Gilchrist • edited by: Leigh A. Zaykoski • updated: 12/7/2010

Rectal bleeding can be an alarming condition. What causes rectal bleeding may be a relatively mild condition, such as constipation. Or it could be a serious illness, such as anal cancer. Evaluate your symptoms and arm yourself with the knowledge of the possible causes of rectal bleeding.

  • slide 1 of 6

    Constipation

    Your rectum and lower colon occupy the last part of your large intestine. If you have rectal bleeding, it could mean that the rectum or the lower colon are affected. You may notice blood in the toilet bowl or on the toilet tissue. It may also show up in your stool. Blood from the rectum could range from a bright red to a darker red.

    There are many possible conditions that may result in this symptom. In your specific case, your doctor can work with you to determine what causes rectal bleeding. The cause may be something as simple as constipation, which you can treat with over-the-counter laxatives. It is also helpful to eat a high-fiber diet and exercise regularly.

  • slide 2 of 6

    Hemorrhoids

    Another common cause of rectal bleeding is hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are inflamed, swollen veins in the rectal area that can be caused by straining. If you also notice itching and general discomfort, in addition to the bleeding, you may have hemorrhoids. This condition is often treatable with over-the-counter creams or ointments. For hemorrhoids that result in a blood clot, your doctor may use a minimally-invasive procedure to remove the blood clot. This can help provide pain relief. For persistent, very painful hemorrhoids, you may need surgery.

  • slide 3 of 6

    Food Poisoning

    Evaluate any additional symptoms you have. If you notice nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and fever, then what causes rectal bleeding may be food poisoning. Food that is contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites can cause mild to severe illness. This may occur if the food is improperly handled or cooked. It may also occur if the food is not stored properly. For example, meat that is left on the counter instead of being stored in the refrigerator can become infected with bacteria. Often, food poisoning will resolve on its own in a few days. Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic for severe cases of food poisoning, or if you have a certain strain of food poisoning.

  • slide 4 of 6

    Anal Fissure

    If you experience bright red blood with a burning pain during bowel movements, you may have an anal fissure. Additional symptoms of an anal fissure could include irritation, itching, and a visible crack that appears in the skin in the area. See your doctor for a prescription cream to apply to the area. The cream can often heal the fissure, however if it does not heal within about two months, you may need surgery.

  • slide 5 of 6

    Anal Cancer

    Sometimes, rectal bleeding could be indicative of cancer. Anal cancer is rare. However, treatment will be more successful if the cancer is detected early. Anal cancer can be treated with chemotherapy and radiation combined. If you experience persistent rectal bleeding, whether alone or with other symptoms, don’t hesitate to see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

privacy policy