Thomas Ho SURGERY
There are many causes to rectal bleeding. Read on to understand what you must do should you encounter this problem.
Rectal bleeding or hematochezia, refers to the passage of fresh red blood through the anus or back passage. The colour of the blood would suggest that bleeding is arising from the distal colon or rectum, which forms the tail end of the large intestine. While bleeding from the rectum or anus may be alarming, most causes are treatable. It is not advisable to delay medical attention as rectal bleeding may be the initial symptom of a serious bowel condition. Moreover, the chronic loss of blood may lead to severe anaemia which can be life- threatening.
There are a multitude of conditions that lead to rectal bleeding. These include:
Intermittent episodes of mild rectal bleeding arising from haemorrhoids are often ignored by patients. Conversely, continuous mild bleeding may lead to severe anaemia while severe large volume bleeding may lead to hypotension or dangerously low blood pressure. Delay in treatment could lead to eventual organ damage such as the heart, brain, and kidneys. As such, you should seek immediate medical attention if the following additional symptoms are present:
Undiagnosed large polyps may also progress to colon cancer. Most colorectal cancers do not exhibit visible symptoms in the early stages, so it is important to detect this as early as possible to prevent the spread of cancer.
The clearest evidence of rectal bleeding is the presence of blood stains or smears on toilet tissue paper. When bleeding is greater, actual blood or blood-stained stool can be seen in the toilet bowl. It is important to take note of the colour of the blood as it indicates where the bleeding might be coming from.
Additional symptoms may include anal, pelvic or abdominal pain, dizziness, fatigue, diarrhoea, and constipation amongst others. Most cases of rectal bleeding will stop without treatment, but one should seek medical help as it may be a sign of a serious underlying condition that warrants attention.
Your doctor will seek more details such as when the bleeding first started, the frequency, the colour of the blood, and whether there are additional symptoms. These questions would help narrow down possible causes of your rectal bleeding, but further tests and procedures are generally required. Some of these procedures include: