Rectal bleeding
Rectal bleeding is a common problem, often caused by constipation, anal fissures or hemorrhoids. It can be an indication of serious occult dis...

Table of Contents
powered by healthline

Average Ratings

Definition

Rectal bleeding is blood coming from the anus at the end of the digestive tract and may be associated with stools or bowel movements or seen in the toilet bowl or on toilet paper.

Alternative Names

Rectal hemorrhage, bleeding per rectum, rectum bleeding, rectorrhagia, proctorrhagia, prb.

Synopsis

Rectal bleeding is a common problem, often caused by constipation, anal fissures or hemorrhoids. It can be an indication of serious occult disease and should be evaluated by a physician. If bright red blood, maroon blood clots, or a large amount of black tarry stools are passed from the rectum, it is a medical emergency and treatment should be sought immediately.

Associated Diagnoses

  • Amebiasis
  • Anal fissure
  • Anal cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Bleeding disorder
  • Trauma
  • Cancer of the esophagus
  • Celiac disease
  • Colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Enteritis
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Ischemic colitis
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Polyp of large intestine
  • Stomach cancer
  • Stomach ulcer

Diagnosis and Treatments

A comprehensive evaluation by a physician is necessary to determine the cause of rectal bleeding. Treatment will depend on accompanying symptoms and the diagnosis. Diagnostic studies might include colonoscopy, stool culture, x-rays, blood tests, barium studies, fecal occult blood testing and flexible sigmoidoscopy.

The American Cancer Society recommends the following screening tests after age 50 for colon cancer. Screening should begin at an earlier age if there is a family history of colon cancer:

  • Fecal occult blood testing annually
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy or barium enema every 5 years
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years

Maintain intestinal health by eating a healthy diet, high in fiber and fresh fruits and vegetables. Drink plenty of fluids and get regular exercise to prevent constipation, hemorrhoids and diverticula.

Call your provider:

Report rectal bleeding to your doctor immediately. If bleeding is heavy and bright red in color, seek emergency medical treatment.

Call 911:

If rectal bleeding is accompanied by:

  • Weakness
  • Pallor
  • Fainting

Written by: JC Jones MA, RN
Reviewed by: Paul Auerbach, MD
Written: November 29, 2007
Last Updated: November 30, 2007
Published By: Healthline Networks Inc.
Licensed from
Top of page
General Drug Tools
General Drug Tools view all tools
Tools for
Healthy Living
Tools for Healthy Living view all tools
Search Tools
Search Tools view all tools
Insurance Plan Tools
Insurance Plan Tools view all tools