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    Rectal bleeding


    Definition of rectal bleeding

    Rectal bleeding can refer to any blood that passes from your anus, although rectal bleeding is usually assumed to refer to bleeding from your lower colon or rectum. Your rectum makes up the last few inches of your large intestine.

    Rectal bleeding may show up as blood in your stool, on the toilet paper or in the toilet bowl. Blood that results from rectal bleeding can range in color from bright red to dark maroon to a dark, tarry color.

    Rectal bleeding may occur for many reasons, including constipation and hemorrhoids.

    Causes of rectal bleeding

    Causes of rectal bleeding include:

    1. Anal cancer
    2. Anal fissure (tear in the skin of the anus)
    3. Angiodysplasia (abnormalities in the blood vessels near the intestines)
    4. Colon cancer
    5. Colon polyps
    6. Chronic constipation
    7. Crohn’s disease
    8. Diarrhea
    9. Diverticulosis (a bulging pouch that forms on the wall of the intestine)
    10. Food poisoning
    11. Hemorrhoids
    12. Intussusception (a portion of the intestine slides inside another portion)
    13. Ischemic colitis (colon inflammation caused by reduced blood flow)
    14. Proctitis (inflammation of the rectum)
    15. Pseudomembranous colitis (colon inflammation caused by an infection)
    16. Radiation therapy
    17. Rectal prolapse (part of the rectum protrudes through the anus)
    18. Solitary rectal ulcer syndrome (a sore on the wall of the rectum)
    19. Ulcerative colitis

    When to see a doctor

    Call 911 or emergency medical assistance

    Seek emergency help if you have rectal bleeding and any signs of shock:

    • Rapid, shallow breathing
    • Dizziness or lightheadedness after standing up
    • Blurred vision
    • Fainting
    • Confusion
    • Nausea
    • Cold, clammy, pale skin
    • Low urine output

    Seek immediate medical attention

    Have someone drive you to urgent care or the emergency room if rectal bleeding is:

    • Continuous or heavy
    • Accompanied by severe abdominal pain or cramping
    • Accompanied by anal pain

    Schedule a doctor’s visit

    Make an appointment to see your doctor if you have rectal bleeding that lasts more than a day or two, or earlier if worrisome. If you’re under age 40 and your rectal bleeding is from an obvious cause, such as a hard stool, small anal fissure or other identifiable source, you can treat it with an over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream or hydrocortisone.

    SOURCEMayo Clinic
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