Rectal bleeding is a medical condition in which bleeding or hemorrhaging occurs in the terminal portion of the large intestine, i.e., in the lower colon or rectum. Medically referred to as hematochezia, its most notable symptom is the presence of bright red colored blood tinge or clots in the stool. Occasional bleeding during bowel movement is attributed to straining during defecation. However, frequent incidence is a cause of concern and requires medical attention. Based on hemorrhage and amount of blood excreted, the doctor may recommend appropriate therapeutic treatment for patients.
As the rectum is located just above the anus in the digestive system, it is assumed that hemorrhaging occurs in the rectum itself. Nevertheless, it is also quite likely that passing of blood in the stool may be a result of the event happening in the upper parts of the gastrointestinal tract. In such a case, the blood is excreted in an oxidized state and appears tarry or light brown. Likewise, the color of the blood is used to determine exact location of hemorrhaging in the gastrointestinal tract.
Rectal Bleeding in Children
It is not unusual in children. In some children, the cause is attributed to the lack of hygiene, which in turn results in abscesses, itching, and red sores in the anal region. If such is the case, regular bathing and cleaning the area with soap and water will help in quick treatment of the problem. Another cause is constipation, which is treated with feeding high fiber foods, drinking ample water, and advocating suppository (if required). Applying an over-the-counter rectal ointment can help in alleviating the pain experienced during bowel movement. Other causes are hemorrhoids, amoebiasis, bowel ulcer, rectum prolapse, blood dyscrasias, and dysentery.
Rectal Bleeding in Adults
Many times, the causes in men are similar to the ones seen in women. Two of such causes are anal fissures and piles (or hemorrhoids). Both the conditions are caused due to constipation or straining during defecation. If constipation is the underlying cause, the problem can be alleviated with simple home remedies and consuming a well-planned diet rich in fiber. Other causes are inflammatory bowel disease, peptic ulcer, gastrointestinal tract infections, diverticulitis, blood disorder, colon polyps, colon cancer, and rectal cancer.
The causes exclusive to men are the side effects of prostate cancer treatment and anal cancer. One of the treatment for prostate cancer is external beam radiation, which, over a period of time leads to rectal bleeding in many patients. As far as anal cancer in men is concerned, the disease incidence is higher in bisexual and gay men. They are at higher risk of contracting human papillomavirus (HPV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), both of which are triggering factors for developing anal cancer. Speaking about the exclusive causes of rectal bleeding in women, constipation during periods, torn perineum during childbirth, and sexually transmitted diseases (e.g. gonorrhea) can lead to bleeding per rectum.