Bleeding from the anus or rectum is always a very uncomfortable surprise. This is usually a sign of a minor problem such as an anal fissure or hemorrhoid. However, it can also indicate a more serious related illness. Make an appointment with a doctor immediately if you have any unexplained rectal bleeding. If they are severe and accompanied by painful stomach cramps or last for several days, it may be a sign of colorectal cancer. The doctor will perform an abdominal exam which determines the cause and severity of rectal bleeding.
Part 1 of 3: identify types of rectal bleeding
Step 1. Look for traces of blood on the toilet paper
Minor rectal bleeding will leave drops or blood stains on the toilet paper. If the problem is with the anus itself, the blood will be very red.
Anal bleeding that occurs during bowel movements can be caused by hemorrhoids or anal fissures. However, it can also be a symptom of a more serious illness and should always be examined by a doctor
Step 2. Check for blood in the toilet bowl
If the rectal bleeding is a little more severe, you will see pinkish blood in the water after defecation. You may also see drops of blood or thick, bloody clots in the water. Most of the time, you will leave one to two tablespoons (5 to 10 ml) of blood in the toilet.
Step 3. See if the stool is brown or black in color
Anal bleeding is not always as obvious as toilet paper stained with blood. If the blood is coming from a few inches from the rectum, it is a sign that it has been absorbed by the stool, which becomes dark and with unusual colors. Black, dark, or bloody stools called melena are always a cause for concern. See a doctor right away if you notice this type of discoloration, especially if it lasts a day or two.
- Certain foods can also discolour the stool. A single event of dark or brown stools may not be enough to indicate rectal bleeding.
- However, if this happens for two or three days in a row, you can be somewhat certain that you have internal bleeding in your rectum or further up the gastrointestinal tract.
Part 2 of 3: See your doctor
Step 1. Make an appointment if you have rectal bleeding
Whenever this happens, you should see a doctor to identify and rule out any serious cause. Seek emergency medical attention if:
- anal bleeding is accompanied by nausea or fever;
- your skin becomes clammy and pale when you have rectal bleeding;
- you have severe abdominal cramps.
Step 2. Seek to take an exam
Ask your doctor for a stool culture or prostate exam. Initially, he can perform a digital and visual rectal exam. He will wear a glove and use his finger to inspect the anus and the lower part of the rectum and to check for trauma, hemorrhoids or a foreign body.
He will also feel and put pressure on the abdomen on the outside and see if there are any strange tumors or potential lumps inside your body
Step 3. Provide blood or stool samples
If the visual examination is inconclusive, the doctor may ask you to provide a stool sample, blood sample, or both. A blood test will help her determine how much blood has been lost and whether your blood can clot properly. A nurse or doctor can take your blood at the office.
Blood and stool samples should be sent to the laboratory for examination. You could wait a week for the results
Step 4. Do a colonoscopy, if needed
In some cases, the doctor will order a colonoscopy to determine the cause or source of the rectal bleeding. During the procedure, he will insert a flexible plastic tube with a camera into your rectum, which allows him to have a clearer picture of the site and to determine the cause of the bleeding.
- Instead of a colonoscopy, they may perform another type of internal examination such as a rectosigmoidoscopy or endoscopy.
- If your doctor can identify an obvious external source of bleeding, such as hemorrhoids, you may not need to have a colonoscopy. However, he or she may still recommend an internal exam to rule out cancer or other more serious related illnesses.
- If you are 40 years of age or older, your doctor will recommend a colonoscopy to check for the possible presence of colorectal cancer that can cause bleeding.
Step 5. Take prescription drugs as directed
Your doctor may prescribe several different remedies depending on the specific causes of the bleeding. These include an emollient laxative, pain reliever, iron supplement (to increase blood production), and medicine to compress blood vessels and decrease bleeding.
If you have hemorrhoids, your doctor may also prescribe a dedicated ointment or steroid cream to reduce anal inflammation
Part 3 of 3: stop and prevent rectal bleeding
Step 1. Eat more fiber
A diet rich in fiber is a long-term solution for minor and occasional rectal bleeding. Anal fissures are usually caused by constipation or excessive straining during bowel movements. If you often experience one of these ailments, fiber intake will greatly facilitate intestinal transit. Foods rich in fiber are:
- vegetables such as lentils, split peas and chickpeas;
- fruits like pear and apple with the skin on;
- bagels, pasta and whole grain muffins.
Step 2. Drink enough water to keep your body hydrated
When the body is dehydrated, it produces harder and harder stools to pass. Anal fissures and minor rectal bleeding are common consequences. Avoid this problem by always being hydrated to facilitate defecation and not to damage the rectum or hemorrhoids.
On average, an adult woman should drink about 12 cups (2.5 liters) of water and other fluids per day. An adult male should drink 15 glasses (3.5 liters) of water and other fluids per day
Step 3. Make sure the bleeding has stopped
Wait for the minor bleeding from hemorrhoids or cracks to stop on their own. Most of the bleeding caused by these ailments will stop on their own when the bowel movement is complete. If you've been to the doctor before and know the problem is with a small crack or hemorrhoid, wait for the bleeding to stop or lightly wipe the anus with toilet paper to stop the blood from flowing.
Step 4. Use an over-the-counter cream
If the bleeding from hemorrhoids or anal fissures persists for two to three days, go to a pharmacy to purchase hydrocortisone or hemorrhoid cream. The product will alleviate discomfort or pain and prevent bleeding from wounds or cracks and help heal them.
- Consult your doctor before using any medicated cream. While most over-the-counter creams are gentle and safe, your doctor can advise you on the best brand to use.
- Your doctor may also prescribe a stronger cream, if necessary.
- Rectal bleeding can be an early symptom of colorectal cancer. However, this is only verified in 1 or 2% of cases. Your doctor will tell you if you are at risk.
- The expression rectorrhagia is used in all cases where blood comes out of the anus. It usually describes the flow of blood from the lower parts of the colon.