Rectal bleeding


Rectal Bleeding

Rectal bleeding is the loss of blood from the lower part of the large intestine. It is usually a sign of an underlying disease or health condition. Although it can be frightening to see, rectal bleeding can occasionally be minor and stop on its own.

Preparation for a Rectal Bleeding Evaluation

Your doctor will likely recommend that you have a colonoscopy to evaluate your rectal bleeding. Prior to the procedure, you will need to prepare your colon by cleaning it out with a laxative. This will allow your doctor to see any abnormalities more easily. Your doctor will also likely ask you to provide a stool sample so that it can be tested for any potential blood in the stool.


During a colonoscopy, your doctor will use a thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end that is inserted into your rectum. Your doctor can then examine the lining of your colon as well as any potential abnormalities. Your doctor may take biopsies or other samples if needed.

Types of Rectal Bleeding

  • Bright red rectal bleeding: This type of bleeding can be caused by hemorrhoids, anal fissures, or other issues related to the rectum. The bleeding will usually stop on its own.
  • Dark red rectal bleeding: Dark red bleeding is usually caused by diverticulosis, and can be accompanied by severe pain in the abdomen. It will typically require medical attention.
  • Maroon-colored rectal bleeding: This type of bleeding is typically caused by a polyp in the rectum. It may be accompanied by abdominal pain, and will usually require medical attention.
  • Black-colored rectal bleeding: This type of bleeding is usually caused by bleeding from the stomach or small intestine, and can be a symptom of a more serious condition such as an ulcer.

Risks of Rectal Bleeding

Although in many cases rectal bleeding is minor and will stop on its own, there are risks associated with rectal bleeding. If you are experiencing any pain, heavy bleeding, or any other symptoms of rectal bleeding, it is important to seek medical attention.

The risks associated with rectal bleeding include:

  • Internal bleeding: If rectal bleeding is not addressed in a timely manner, it can lead to internal bleeding, which can be life-threatening.
  • Anemia: Heavy rectal bleeding can cause anemia, a condition in which the body is not able to produce enough healthy red blood cells.
  • Dehydration: Rectal bleeding can cause severe dehydration, and can potentially lead to kidney failure if not treated quickly.

When to See a Doctor

It is important to seek medical attention if you experience any rectal bleeding. In some cases, such as when the bleeding is bright red or accompanied by abdominal pain, you should seek medical attention immediately. If you experience any symptoms such as nausea, light-headedness, or difficulty breathing, seek medical attention right away.