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Rectal/Anal Bleeding

If you've noticed blood in or on your stools, on the toilet paper, or in the water in the toilet bowl, it can be quite alarming. It's also something that many people feel embarrassed about, and therefore often try to ignore it. However, doctors are very used to this type of problem, because it is very common, so there is no need to feel embarrassed.

Any bleeding from your rectum (end part of the large bowel) or anus (the opening which stools pass from your body) should always be checked out by a GP. It is usually temporary and easily treated, but it can be a sign of something more serious. If it is due to a more serious condition, it is always better to start treatment as quickly as possible.

There are many causes for rectal or anal bleeding. Haemorrhoids (piles) are a very common condition. They are swollen veins in the rectal and anal area which can cause bleeding, itching and irritation, pain and discomfort. Sometimes they protrude, which means that you can see and feel them on the outside of the anus. Haemorrhoids are usually temporary, but if they persist your GP will be able to suggest a suitable treatment.

Anal bleeding can also be caused by an anal fissure, which is a tear just inside the anus which may be caused by passing hard stools.

The discomfort caused by haemorrhoids and anal fissures can be eased by following a few simple guidelines:

  • keep the area clean by bathing or showering daily,
  • dry the area carefully but thoroughly,
  • use soft toilet paper, and dab rather than wipe,
  • don't scratch,
  • avoid constipation by eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and high-fibre foods, such as bran cereal, and
  • drink plenty of fluids, ideally 8-10 glasses of water every day.

Haemorrhoids and anal fissures can often heal by themselves, but if you still have the same symptoms after a few days, you should see your GP.

You should seek immediate medical attention if your rectal/anal bleeding is accompanied by any of these further symptoms:

  • black or maroon stools,
  • bleeding that is worsening,
  • fever,
  • dizziness or fainting spells,
  • nausea,
  • vomiting,
  • stomach pains or swelling,
  • recent weight loss,
  • altered bowel habits,
  • severe diarrhoea,
  • diarrhoea that continues for longer than a few days,
  • pencil-sized stools,
  • leaking of faeces that you cannot control, or
  • inability to have a bowel movement.


From http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/articles/article.aspx?articleId=1769

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