Rectal bleeding (Blood in Stool) – Symptoms, causes and treatment

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Rectal bleeding is the condition where blood is spotted or noticed in the rectum or the stool.  

What is rectal bleeding?

If blood is found on the toilet bowl or in the tissue, then it needs to be treated. The discharge of blood is because of rectal bleeding. Before moving towards the risk and complication of rectal bleeding, let’s understand the rectum.

The rectum is one of the parts of the large intestine. It ends before the anus and connects the colon and anus. The function of the rectum includes receiving and storing the stool until the stool is excreted out of the body. So, rectum plays a major role in the excretion of waste from the body.

Hence, the severity of rectal bleeding can range from mild to life-threatening. It needs medical attention because rectal bleeding shows abnormalities either in the rectum or in the gastrointestinal tract.

What causes rectal bleeding?

Rectal bleeding can indicate serious problems, so the causes also vary. There are several causes and conditions associated with rectal bleeding. The following are the common causes:


Haemorrhoids or piles are the most common cause of rectal bleeding. Haemorrhoids refer to swollen or inflamed veins in the anus (external haemorrhoids) or rectum (internal haemorrhoids).

Anal fissures

Anal fissures are often misjudged as haemorrhoids. Anal fissures are the small tear or splits in the lining tissue of the anus. This split can lead to rectal bleeding along with the stool. Anal fissures also make the stool hard to pass.


Constipation can cause both haemorrhoids and anal fissures, which is the major cause of rectal bleeding. Constipation makes the stool hard to pass and also creates pain during bowel movements.

Colon polyps

Polyps are small growth of excess tissues. The growth occurs in the lining of the large intestine. Polyps are non-cancerous growth of tissues, but they can cause rectal bleeding.


Ulcers result from excessive secretion of digestive fluid and are also caused by an imbalance in digestive fluid. The acid can damage the lining tissue of the digestive tract, eventually causing stool to appear black or tar-like colour. In rare cases, an ulcer leads to bleeding.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

One of the major symptoms of IBD is bleeding. The inflammation in the digestive tract can also cause bleeding in the rectum.

Anal abscess or fistula

Fistula is a gland that aids in pushing the stool out of the body. If the fistula gland is infected, it can cause abscesses or fistulas. This puss (abscesses or fistulas) blocks the stool and makes it hard to pass. When the condition becomes severe, it causes rectal bleeding.

What are the symptoms of rectal bleeding?

The most common and visible sign is the bleeding or blood spot on the stool. Other than that, the rectal bleeding symptoms depend on the causes. Anyway, self-examination is important to notice the changes in the body.

In rectal bleeding, it is important to notice the colour of the stool. The following are some of the common symptoms of rectal bleeding:

  • Pain in the abdomen (in and around the rectal area)
  • Blood in toilet or toilet paper
  • Black or tar coloured stool
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue

How is rectal bleeding diagnosed? 

Rectal bleeding is diagnosed in the following ways.

Physical examination is the first diagnosis step. The physical examination is performed to check for inflammation in the rectum or affected area. The anus is also checked for abnormalities.

Endoscopy provides a picture of the inside of the body. A thin and flexible tube with a camera is inserted into the anus to rule out the infection or abnormalities.

An imagery test is taken to get a clear picture of the organs, which helps to check for the inflammation and severity of the diseases.

What is the treatment for rectal bleeding?

Like the symptoms, the treatments depend upon the cause of the rectal bleeding.

Home remedies can be the best treatment only if constipation causes rectal bleeding. Even home remedies work only for the early stages of constipation.

Eating fibre content food, exercising regularly, and staying hydrated are some of the home remedies for rectal bleeding caused by constipation.

However, consulting a doctor becomes necessary. After identifying the cause of rectal bleeding, the doctor will discuss the treatment procedures and medication. The treatment procedures may differ depending on the condition and severity of the disease.  


Is rectal bleeding severe? Yes, severe rectal bleeding can’t be ignored. For example, rectal bleeding caused by constipation of haemorrhoids can be treated.

Even though they need medical attention, it is not life-threatening. But cancer also causes rectal bleeding and is a life-threatening situation.

So, it is important to consult a doctor. Rectal bleeding is a common problem, and it is most often related to treatable causes. However, it can also lead to major issues. Treating rectal bleeding in the early days will reduce complications.  


The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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