Up to 34% of people experience rectal bleeding at some point in their lives. At GastroCare LI, patient-focused rectal bleeding specialists Bradley Rieders, MD, and Brandon Rieders, MD, provide expert diagnosis, treatment, and management of this frustrating issue at their Valley Stream, New York, office. To find out the cause of your rectal bleeding and get the help you need, book an appointment online or call the GastroCare LI office now.

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What is rectal bleeding?

Rectal bleeding occurs when blood exits your anus during bowel movements or at other times. This type of bleeding can be either overt or occult.

Overt rectal bleeding

Overt rectal bleeding is blood you can see. It may appear in your stools, the toilet water, or on toilet paper. The blood may be bright red or darker red (maroon), and it may also appear as black tar-like stool.

Occult rectal bleeding

Occult rectal bleeding is blood you can’t see. So, you might only learn about occult rectal bleeding when you develop anemia or experience other symptoms of continued blood loss.

Both overt and occult rectal bleeding require medical attention, as they usually indicate a problem within your large intestine.

Most causes of rectal bleeding originate in the colon (the longest part of your large intestine) or the rectum (the last few inches of the large intestine, which connects to the anus).

What causes rectal bleeding?

Rectal bleeding has many causes, including:

  • Diverticular disease: pouches in the large intestine
  • Polyps: abnormal growths in the colon
  • Angiodysplasias: unhealthy blood vessels in the large intestine
  • Hemorrhoids: swollen veins within your rectum or anus
  • Ulcerative colitis: inflammation in the colon and rectum
  • Crohn’s disease: inflammation anywhere in the digestive tract
  • Anal fissures: tissue tears in the anus, often due to constipation

Rectal bleeding can also occur because of colon cancer — a life-threatening disease — so it’s essential to schedule colon cancer screening (colonoscopy) starting at age 45 or as recommended by your GastroCare LI provider.

How is rectal bleeding diagnosed?

You may need blood and stool tests to find the cause of your rectal bleeding. If you haven’t had a recent colonoscopy, your provider may perform this test to evaluate your large intestine from the inside. Or, they might recommend another type of imaging test to evaluate your large intestine.

You might also need another type of endoscopy, such as a capsule endoscopy, in which you swallow a tiny pill-sized camera that gathers footage as it travels your digestive tract.

How is rectal bleeding treated?

Treatment of rectal bleeding depends on the cause, the amount of blood loss, and other factors specific to your case. You may need to stop taking blood-thinning medications until you complete treatment for the underlying condition.

Treatments can range from medications to in-office procedures like hemorrhoid banding, based on your cause of rectal bleeding. In the most severe treatment-resistant cases, you might need surgery to remove the part of your intestine where the uncontrolled bleeding occurs.

Rectal bleeding is treatable, but the sooner you get help, the better. Call the GastroCare LI office or book your appointment online for help now.