Rectal bleeding, which can be obvious or ‘occult’ (hidden) is a symptom of a problem, not a disease itself. You might notice it in your stool or on toilet paper after wiping. Typically, it occurs in conjunction with conditions that can be controlled, such as hemorrhoids or constipation. It can, however, be a sign of something more serious, such as anal or colon cancer, ulcerative or ischemic colitis or polyps.
Although the cause of bleeding may not be serious, it’s important for your doctor to find the source. The digestive or gastrointestinal (GI) tract includes the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon, rectum, and anus. Bleeding can come from one or more of these areas.
According to Dr. Carl Calandra of Digestive Disease Associates, it is very important to get an evaluation by a board-certified GI physician right away if you notice rectal bleeding. “Typically, we will diagnose the cause of the bleeding by discussing the patient’s medical history and any other symptoms that he or she is experiencing, such as diarrhea and abdominal cramps,” he explains. “We will then use any combination of a physical examination, anoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy to get to the source of the bleeding.”
Depending on the cause of the bleeding, your gastroenterologist will recommend a treatment plan. For minor conditions, he or she may suggest topical creams, warm baths, fiber supplements or stool softeners. In more serious cases, surgery may be an option.
Digestive Disease Associates physicians urge you to seek emergency help if you have rectal bleeding and any of the following:
- Rapid, shallow breathing
- Dizziness or lightheadedness after standing up
- Blurred vision
- Cold, clammy, pale skin
- Low urine output
Call Digestive Disease Associates in Hinsdale at (630) 325-4255 to schedule an appointment to discuss rectal bleeding. Visit www.ddahinsdale.com to learn more.
Note: This information shouldn’t take the place of a physician’s care. Please see your physician or one of the Digestive Disease Associate physicians with any questions or concerns.