Rectal Bleeding

Seeing blood after you have opened your bowels is a worrying sign and should encourage you to visit your doctor for their opinion without delay. Happily most causes of bleeding from the “back passage” are nothing to worry about and can be easily treated. Commonly bright red blood found on the toilet paper or in the toilet bowl is caused by haemorrhoids (piles). Other condition affecting the anal canal may also cause this pattern of bleeding including anal fissures which are commonly associated with a painful tearing sensation and inflammation of the lower rectum (proctitis) which is often associated with a need to open ones bowels urgently. Rectal bleeding is also seen from diverticular disease, radiation damage to the bowel and inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, but in these cases bleeding tends to be of a larger volume and is often associated with diarrhoea.

Darker blood mixed in with the stool raises the possibility of a growth in the bowel and although this may be from a variety of causes including a simple polyp which can be removed by a colonoscopy (telescopic test) it does raise the possibility that a cancer might be the cause. Although this is a frightening thought, bowel cancer can be cured if it is diagnosed and treated quickly.

Although the pattern of bleeding can give a clue to the cause, it is important that you do not delay a visit to a specialist to make sure that a serious but treatable condition is not missed.