What causes rectal bleeding?

Rectal bleeding can be the result of any condition of the digestive tract, particularly the lower gastrointestinal organs. The rectum itself may bleed due to hemorrhoids or anal fissures. Other common causes for rectal bleeding include inflammation or infection of the colon or weakening of the intestinal blood vessels.

Common causes of rectal bleeding

Common causes of rectal bleeding include:

  • Anal fissures or hemorrhoids
  • Angiodysplasia (abnormalities in the intestinal blood vessels)
  • Bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia or von Willebrand’s disease
  • Colorectal cancer or benign tumors
  • Diverticulitis (inflammation of an abnormal pocket in the colon)
  • Dysentery (bloody diarrhea that accompanies an infection)
  • Esophageal varices (swollen veins in the esophagus that have the potential to rupture)
  • Esophagitis (inflammation of the esophagus)
  • Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis)
  • Medication effects (caused by medications such as warfarin, clopidogrel)
  • Peptic ulcer

Serious or life threatening causes of rectal bleeding

  • Serious or life threatening causes of rectal bleeding can include:
  • Cancers of the digestive tract
  • Perforated peptic ulcer
  • Perforation of the intestine

What are the risk factors for rectal bleeding?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing rectal bleeding. Not all people with risk factors will get rectal bleeding. Risk factors for rectal bleeding include:

  • Abdominal gas, which increases pressure on the rectum and may cause bleeding hemorrhoids
  • Alcoholism or heavy alcohol ingestion, which is associated with esophageal varices (swollen veins in the esophagus that have the potential to rupture)
  • Constipation, which may cause straining and dry hard stools, which can abrade the rectum
  • Family history of gastrointestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which is known to cause bleeding
  • Older age, which may result in weakened intestinal blood vessels

What is rectal bleeding?

Rectal bleeding indicates the passage of blood from the anus. The bleeding may arise from any part of the gastrointestinal tract, including the rectum. Therefore, rectal bleeding can be caused by any number of gastrointestinal difficulties. 

Typically, bleeding from the upper gastrointestinal tract manifests as black or tarry stool known as melena. The black color develops ... Read more about rectal bleedingintroduction


What are the symptoms of rectal bleeding?

Rectal bleeding is a symptom of a disease originating in the digestive tract. A number of different conditions can cause bleeding. Many causes of bleeding are related to conditions that can be cured or controlled, such as ulcers or hemorrhoids. Some causes of bleeding may be life threatening.

Symptoms of rectal bleeding

You may experience rectal bleeding symptoms daily ... Read more about rectal bleedingsymptoms


How is rectal bleeding treated?

Treatment for rectal bleeding begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. Diagnostic procedures, such as endoscopy, colonoscopy or angiography, may be done to pinpoint the source of the bleeding.

In endoscopy, a flexible tube with a camera is inserted i... Read more about rectal bleedingtreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 6, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Digestive System

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