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This Month Health Video

Rectal Bleeding


Rectal bleeding in the medical term is known as hematochezia, which is a disorder when blood comes out from anus, often mixed with stool and/ or blood clots. Rectal bleeding most of the time is not a serious affair, though it can be a serious if the bleeding continue for weeks or months. Generally mild rectal bleeding can be treated in doctor's chambers but when the bleeding starts continue for weeks or more than few drops, it need immediate attention and may lead to colon cancer.

Rectal bleeding can be categorized into moderate to severe. Moderate patients pass blood in bright color with the stools and often mixed with blood clots. Also, sometimes it has been witnessed that patients have many bowel movements and pass blood or in one movement with a large amount of blood passes through stool. Moderate or severe rectal bleeding can lead to weakness, dizziness, near fainting, and sign of low blood pressure. In this cases, it is better to hospitalize patients and treat with adequate medical facility. Sometimes with passing away of large amount of blood can cause severe problem and need emergency hospitalization and transfusion of blood.

Origin of Rectal Bleeding

As a common believe rectal bleeding is not always the cause of rectum infection but most of the time the root problem lies in the colon. The colon is a gastrointestinal tract through which food passes after it has been digested in the small intestine. The primary function of colon is to store water, which is removed from the undigested food and eliminate from the body as stool. The end of colon is the rectum. The size of rectum is 15 cm. The anus is the opening through stool passes from the body. This three colon, rectum and anus form a long track.

The blood comes out because of damage on gastrointestinal tract. The color often depends on the location of bleeding in the tract. The closer the bleeding site is to the anus, the blood will be a brighter red. A black, smelly and tarry stool is known as melena and it occurs from the right colon. It occurs when blood in the colon stay longer and the bacteria break it down into chemicals (hematin) that are black. On the other hand, blood from sigmoid colon and rectum is bright in color and usually not stay long enough for the bacteria to turn it black.


When the inflammation is restricted to the rectum, the condition is called proctitis. When the colon is involved, it is called colitis. It is important to identify the specific cause of the inflammation so appropriate treatment can be started.

The 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.

Fistula - A fistula is an abnormal, burrowing channel that usually runs from the rectum to the skin around the anus. It will often 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.

Fissure - The passage of a hard stool or severe diarrhea may tear the lining tissue of the anus. This problem is similar to having cracked lips in cold weather. Nerve endings and blood vessels are exposed so that pain and bleeding occur with bowel movements.

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.

Polyps and Cancer - Of course, the greatest concern about rectal bleeding is cancer. Polyps are benign growths in the colon. When polyps reach a large size, they can bleed, and certain types of polyps turn into cancer. Colon cancer is usually curable when discovered early. 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.

Read More about Rectal Bleeding

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