Rectal Bleeding

Rectal bleeding is a bleeding during bowel movements can be serious warning sign for colon or rectal cancer. It is important to find out what actually is causing such bleeding to direct the treatment and find out about presence of polyp or cancer. Rectal bleeding symptoms depends on the causes.

Causes of Rectal Bleeding

Hemorrhoids

These are dilated blood vessels or veins in the anal or rectal area. They can occur on the outside where they are felt as small bumps when wiping. Or they may be on the inside where they are usually painless. They develop quite commonly with chronic constipation and especially with pregnancy. Fistula: A fistula is an abnormal, burrowing channel that usually runs from the rectum to the skin around the anus. It often will drain a whitish discharge, but it can also bleed. While it is usually just a local problem, a fistula is often associated with chronic inflammation in other parts of the intestinal tract such as Crohn’s disease. Fissure: The passage of a hard stool or severe diarrhea may tear the lining tissue of the anus. Nerve endings and blood vessels are exposed so that pain and bleeding occur with bowel movements. Proctitis and Colitis: Either the rectum, colon, or both, can become inflamed and ulcerated. There may be rectal urgency, cramps or diarrhea associated with the bleeding. When the inflammation is restricted to the rectum, the condition is called proctitis. When the colon is involved, it is called colitis. Polyps and Cancer: Polyps are benign growths in the colon and can bleed. Certain types of polyps can turn into cancer. It most often occurs in people over the age of 50, but it is not unheard of in younger individuals, even in their 30’s or younger. Because colon cancer is such a common cancer, it is always considered as a possible diagnosis. Prolapse of the Rectum: Some older individuals will have weakened rectal support tissues and get protrusion of part of rectum from the anus and bleed. It can be felt as an abnormal bulging from the rectum when wiping.

Diverticulosis

Diverticula are pockets or sacs that project from the bowel wall. They balloon out over the years due to recurrent, high pressure spasm of the colon. Occasionally they can bleed. They usually produce a lot of blood, and it comes all at one time. It normally does not persist in small amounts with bowel movements over days or weeks. Serious, persistent diverticular bleeding usually requires hospitalization and, at times, surgery.

Diagnosis

During medical history and digital rectal exam, the physician will inspect the anal area looking for tears and hemorrhoids. A finger exam can provide information when there is tenderness or a tumor inside. There are several types of endoscopes used to view the colon. In the office, the physician may use a small proctoscope which is usually useful in diagnosis of hemorrhoids or other rectal conditions. A more thorough exam is accomplished with a colonoscope, allowing the physician to view the entire colon under intravenous anesthesia.

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