A concerning complaint from patients, that causes grave concern is that of rectal bleeding ., Whether it is blood seen with a bowel movement or at the end on cleaning oneself, bleeding is worrisome and must be addressed. Not all bleeding is bright red and black, sticky tar-like stools are signs of bleeding as well.
Some causes include:
Hemorrhoids: caused by swollen vein in the rectum or anus, hemorrhoids result in painless bright red blood, with itching and discomfort. Constipation and low fiber diet frequently contribute to the development of hemorrhoids.
Anal fissure: a small crack or tear in the thin, moist lining of the lower rectum causing painful bleeding with a bowel movement. Sometimes it is self-limiting. However, if pain and bleeding persists, talk to your doctor immediately.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): this chronic condition, is inflammation of the bowel causing intermittent bleeding with red and swollen intestines, ulcers and pain. There are 2 types that require evaluation from your primary care and gastroenterologists.
Crohn’s disease is an IBD that causes ulcers to form in the gastrointestinal tract anywhere from the mouth to the anus.
Ulcerative colitis affects the colon and present with similar symptoms. There is a higher risk of colorectal cancer associated with IBD.
Colorectal cancer: Recently the American Cancer Society recommended that people at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at 45 years of age.
Risk factors include:
- Having a personal or family history of colorectal cancer
- Having an inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
- Being African American
- Having type 2 diabetes
- Being obese
Possible signs of colorectal cancer are:
- Blood in your stool or in the toilet after you have a bowel movement.
- Changes in the shape or consistency of your stool (diarrhea or constipation lasting several weeks).
- Weakness or fatigue.
- Unplanned weight loss.
Remember to seek immediate medical care if you have concerns or symptoms