Minus/plus icon
ResourcesExplore the full ACKO experience and make the most of your plan

Home / Health Insurance / Articles / Diseases / Rectal Bleeding: Causes, symptoms, and treatment

Rectal Bleeding: Causes, symptoms, and treatment

TeamAckoSept 21, 2023

Rectal Bleeding (RB) is a common medical condition that can cause a lot of discomfort and embarrassment. If you're suffering from this condition, you're not alone. In this article, we'll explore the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for RB.




What is Rectal Bleeding?

Rectal Bleeding is a condition where blood passes through the rectum and anus. The blood may be visible in the stool or on the toilet paper after wiping. It can range from a few drops to a significant amount.

What Causes Rectal Bleeding?

Rectal Bleeding can be caused by a wide variety of factors, including the following.

  • Haemorrhoids: Haemorrhoids are a common cause of RB. Haemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus and rectum. They can be internal or external, and they can cause bleeding, itching, and pain.

  • Anal Fissures: They can be caused by constipation, diarrhoea, or trauma. They can cause pain, itching, and bleeding.

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): IBD is a prominent cause. 

  • Diverticulitis: Diverticulitis is a condition where small pouches in the colon become infected or inflamed. It can cause RB, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea.

  • Colon Cancer: Colon Cancer is a serious condition where cancerous cells grow in the colon. It can cause RB, abdominal pain, and weight loss.

  • Other Causes: Other causes of RB include anal cancer, rectal prolapse, and sexually transmitted infections.

Symptoms of Rectal Bleeding

Symptoms of Rectal Bleeding can vary depending on the cause. Some common symptoms include the following.

  • Blood in the stool or on the toilet paper after wiping

  • Abdominal pain

  • Diarrhoea

  • Constipation

  • Itching or discomfort around the anus

Diagnosis of Rectal Bleeding

To diagnose the cause of RB, your doctor may perform a physical exam, a rectal exam, or a colonoscopy. They may also order blood tests, stool tests, or imaging tests like an MRI or CT scan.

There are several tests that your healthcare provider may recommend to determine the underlying cause of RB. These tests may include the following. 

  • Colonoscopy: This is a procedure in which a flexible tube with a camera on the end is inserted into the rectum to examine the colon for abnormalities.

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: This is a procedure in which a flexible tube with a camera on the end is inserted into the rectum to examine the lower portion of the colon for abnormalities.

  • Faecal occult blood test: This is a test that checks for hidden blood in the stool, which may indicate the presence of bleeding in the digestive tract.

  • Barium enema: This is a test in which a liquid called barium is inserted into the rectum to coat the colon, which helps identify abnormalities on X-rays.

  • CT scan: This is a type of imaging test that uses X-rays and computer technology to create detailed images of the body, which can help identify abnormalities in the digestive tract.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This is a type of imaging test that uses a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the body, which can help identify abnormalities in the digestive tract.

Treatment of Rectal Bleeding

Treatment for RB will depend on the cause. Some common treatment options include the following.

  • Haemorrhoids: Treatment for Hemorrhoids may include over-the-counter creams, ointments, or suppositories. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.

  • Anal Fissures: Treatment for Anal Fissures may include over-the-counter creams or ointments, warm baths, or surgery in severe cases.

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Treatment for IBD may include medication, dietary changes, or surgery in severe cases.

  • Diverticulitis: Treatment for Diverticulitis may include antibiotics, dietary changes, or surgery in severe cases.

  • Colon Cancer: Treatment for Colon Cancer may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments.

  • Other Treatments: Other treatments for RB may include medication for infections or sexually transmitted infections, or surgery for anal cancer or rectal prolapse.

How to prevent Rectal Bleeding

Rectal Bleeding can be prevented by taking certain measures that promote good digestive health. Here are some tips for preventing RB.

1. Eat a high-fibre diet

Eating a diet that is rich in fibre can help prevent RB by promoting healthy bowel movements. Fibre can help soften stools and prevent constipation, which can reduce the risk of straining during bowel movements and the associated risk of RB.

2. Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water and other fluids can help prevent RB by keeping stools soft and easy to pass. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, and more if you exercise or sweat a lot.

3. Avoid straining during bowel movements

Straining during bowel movements can cause RB by putting pressure on the rectum and anus. If you have difficulty passing stools, talk to your doctor about treatments like fibre supplements or stool softeners.

4. Exercise regularly

Regular exercise can help prevent RB by promoting healthy bowel movements and reducing the risk of constipation. 

5. Don't ignore RB

If you experience RB, don't ignore it. Talk to your doctor to determine the cause and receive appropriate treatment. Ignoring RB can lead to complications like anaemia or colon cancer.

How does Rectal Bleeding appear?

Rectal bleeding can appear in a number of ways, depending on the underlying cause and the severity of the bleeding.

  • The most obvious sign of RB is the presence of blood in your stool. This may appear as bright red blood on the surface of the stool, or as darker, maroon-coloured blood that is mixed in with the stool. In some cases, the blood may appear as small streaks or spots on the toilet paper after wiping.

  • It may also be accompanied by other symptoms, such as abdominal pain, cramping, or bloating. If the bleeding is caused by a more serious condition, such as inflammatory bowel disease or cancer, you may also experience weight loss, fatigue, and other symptoms related to the underlying condition.

  • It is important to note that not all cases of RB are visible. In some cases, the bleeding may occur higher up in the digestive tract and not be visible in the stool. In these cases, the bleeding may be detected through other tests, such as a colonoscopy or endoscopy.

  • If you are experiencing RB or any other concerning symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention. Your healthcare provider can help determine the underlying cause of your symptoms and provide appropriate treatment.

Will rectal bleeding go away on its own?

RB may go away on its own without treatment, but in many cases, medical intervention is necessary.

  • If your RB is caused by a minor condition such as haemorrhoids, the bleeding may stop on its own as the haemorrhoids heal. However, it is still important to address the underlying cause of the haemorrhoids to prevent future episodes of bleeding. This may involve making dietary and lifestyle changes, using topical ointments or suppositories, or undergoing minimally invasive procedures to remove the haemorrhoids.

  • If your RB is caused by a more serious condition such as inflammatory bowel disease or colon cancer, it is unlikely to go away on its own. In fact, delaying treatment for these conditions can lead to more serious complications and a worse overall prognosis.

What should I ask my healthcare provider about Rectal Bleeding 

Here are some questions that you may want to ask your doctor during your appointment.

  • What is causing my RB?

  • Are there any diagnostic tests that I need to undergo to determine the cause of my symptoms?

  • What are the treatment options for my condition?

  • How long will it take for my symptoms to improve?

  • Are there any dietary or lifestyle changes that I can make to help manage my symptoms?

  • Are there any potential complications associated with my condition?

  • Will I need to follow up with additional appointments or monitoring?

  • How can I prevent future episodes of RB?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some FAQs about Rectal Bleeding.


Can Rectal Bleeding be associated with stress?

While stress can contribute to digestive problems like diarrhoea or constipation, there is no evidence that stress can directly cause RB.

Is Rectal Bleeding a symptom of COVID-19?

While COVID-19 can cause digestive symptoms like diarrhoea or abdominal pain, RB is not a common symptom of the virus.

How is Rectal Bleeding treated during pregnancy?

Treatment for RB during pregnancy will depend on the cause. Some treatments, like surgery or certain medications, may not be safe during pregnancy. Your doctor will work with you to find the best treatment option for you and your baby.

Is there a possibility that Rectal Bleeding can heal itself?

RB is a common symptom that can be caused by a variety of conditions, ranging from haemorrhoids to cancer. It is natural to wonder if it will go away on its own, but the answer is not straightforward. While some cases of RB may resolve without intervention, others may require medical attention.

What is worse: bright red blood or darker blood in stool?

Bright red blood in your stool is usually an indication of bleeding in the lower digestive tract and is generally not considered to be as serious as darker blood, which may be a sign of bleeding in the upper digestive tract. However, the colour of the blood is not always a reliable indicator of the severity of the condition, and medical attention should always be sought if you are experiencing RB.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.

More articles on Diseases



Want to post any comments?


Protect your health with our comprehensive disease 🦠 coverage

✅ 100% Room Rent Covered* ✅ Zero deductions at claims ✅ 7100+ Cashless Hospitals

quote icon

Check health insurance

quote icon