GI Problems FAQs

Rectal Bleeding


What is rectal bleeding?
Rectal bleeding is blood from the rectum, which may appear on the stool, on the toilet paper or in the toilet bowl. Continuous passage of significantly greater amounts of blood from the rectum or stools that appear black, tarry or maroon in color can signify other diseases.

What are the possible causes of rectal bleeding?

  • Hemorrhoids
  • Anal fissures
  • Proctitis (inflammation of the rectum) or colitis
  • Polyps
  • Colon or anal cancer
  • Rectal ulcers
  • Diverticulosis

What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in the anus and rectum that become engorged from increased pressure. Hemorrhoids are the most common cause of minor rectal bleeding, and are typically not associated with pain.  Treatments include warm baths, over-the-counter creams or a suppository.

What are anal fissures?
Anal fissures are tears that occur in the lining of the anus and are commonly caused by constipation. Anal fissures may also cause a lot of pain during and immediately after bowel movements. Treatment includes fiber supplements, stool softeners and warm baths.  Measures that relax the anal sphincter may also help healing.

What is proctitis?
Proctitis is the inflammation of the lining of the rectum caused by previous radiation therapy for various cancers, medications, infections or inflammatory bowel disease.

What are colon polyps?
Polyps are benign growths within the lining of the large bowel. It is important to remove polyps to prevent turning into colon cancer.

What is colon cancer?
Colon cancer starts in the large intestine and is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the United States. It is a slow-growing cancer that can be cured if detected early.

What are rectal ulcers?
Rectal ulcers are an uncommon condition that is associated with long-standing constipation and prolonged straining during bowel movement.

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