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Bleeding During Bowel Movements (Rectal Bleeding)

Updated on December 22, 2015
The common causes of heavy bleeding during bowel movements.
The common causes of heavy bleeding during bowel movements.

You are reading this article because you probably suffer from heavy bleeding when having bowel movements. You probably want to know why there is usually blood in your stool and what you can do to solve that problem.

Before carrying on, it is important that readers know that the official name for bleeding during a bowel movement is “rectal bleeding”. And for this reason, as you read on, you are going to be seeing more of the term ‘rectal bleeding’ being used than the phrase ‘bleeding during bowel movement’.

This article shall take a look at the common causes of rectal bleeding and possible solutions to the problem. Hopefully if you are one who currently suffers from the problem of rectal bleeding, this article might be able to help you to understand what is really causing you that problem and most importantly be able to give you the much needed solution to the problem.

Seeing blood in your stool is never an easy thing to see. It doesn’t matter whether it has been happening for a long time or it just started happening. The bottom line is the fact that regardless of how long you have been experiencing this problem, it is always a problem that frightens you. You can’t help not wondering whether the blood in your stool is the sign of a serious problem or not. Is it cancer? What is it? You might even have sleepless nights over this. It is even worse when you notice it for the first time.

Apart from the fright it causes, it can honestly be quite an embarrassing thing. Imagine someone going to the toilet after you and noticing that it has blood stains on it.

And because of how embarrassing the problem of rectal bleeding can be, many people suffering from it are reluctant to tell their doctors of the problem. But I want to use this opportunity to tell you that, you shouldn’t be embarrassed simply because you are not the only one suffering from rectal bleeding. A significant percentage of the population of where you live, suffers from this problem. For some people, the rectal bleeding is just a minor problem, but for others, it might be a sign of a serious medical condition. For some people, the bleeding can be severe, but for others, it can be very mild.

So without further ado, let us now delve straight into the common causes of rectal bleeding.

Causes of bleeding during bowel movement

Below are the most common causes of rectal bleeding. Remember that despite the fact that you are going to be shown some of the reasons why you have blood in your stool, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see you GP for a proper rectal examination to be carried out on you in order to find the exact cause of your problem. Never let shyness hinder you from receiving medical attention. Having said this, let us now look at the common causes of rectal bleeding.

Piles (hemorrhoids)

One of the most common reasons why many people suffer from rectal bleeding is because of the condition called piles. Another name for piles is hemorrhoids. A person is said to be suffering from piles (hemorrhoids) when the blood vessels around his or her rectal outlet or opening become swollen. One of the most common symptoms of piles is blood in your stools. More often than not, the blood in the stool would have a bright-reddish color. Another common symptom of piles is itchiness around the rectal outlet or opening.

There are so many things that can make a person develop piles. Some of the common causes of piles include: lifting very heavy things, constipation, straining when having bowel movements, obesity, etc. Pregnancy can also make some women to develop piles.

Treating hemorrhoids (piles)

In treating hemorrhoids, one needs to focus on the cause of the hemorrhoids. So for example, if chronic constipation is what is causing you to suffer from this problem, then it is obvious that treating the constipation with a high fiber diet or something else will go a long way in giving you some relief from the constipation and also the hemorrhoids. Also, if your piles exists as a result of straining too much during bowel movements, then it’s high time you put an end to that. You can drink more water in order to soften your stools so that you don’t strain during bowel movements.

Addressing the things responsible for causing the piles (hemorrhoids) is normally all you need to do to get some relief.

However, there are certain times when the hemorrhoids become so severe that the only way it can be treated is through surgery.

Anal fissure

Another very common cause of blood in stool is as a result of an anal fissure. A fissure is a deep crack or split in something. This therefore means that an anal fissure is a situation whereby part of the tissue lining the rectal opening tears or splits. One of the most common causes of an anal fissure is as a result of passing very hard and large stool. If you pass very hard stools, your risk of suffering from this problem is very high. The reason this happens is because of how easily the hard stool can tear the fragile and delicate anal tissue.

When you suffer from anal fissure, you often experience heavy bleeding during bowel movements. The bleeding comes about as a result of your stool causing more tear to the existing tear as it comes out of your rectal opening. Anal fissure can cause you extreme pain during and after bowel movements.

Treatment for anal fissure

More often than not, you don’t need to treat an anal fissure since it heals on its own within some few weeks. Depending on how healthy you are and how tiny the split or tear is, it can take about two to three weeks to heal.

Sometimes you can also use warm water to accelerate the healing process of the fissure. Doctors often advise patients to sit in warm water for several minutes. Sitting in warm water for at least 10 minutes several times in a day can help significantly in making the fissure heal very quickly. You can also use certain anal fissure medications to make your fissure heal faster.

Here are some common drugs and medications used in treating anal fissures: nitroglycerin, steroid creams, botox injection, etc.

You can also prevent this problem by cultivating the habit of drinking more and more water every day. The more water you drink, the softer your stool is going to become and the easier it will be for you during bowel movements. This is the reason why people who don’t drink enough water tend to pass very hard stools.

NOTE: There are certain times when the fissure is so big and severe that it becomes resistant to treatment. In such a situation, the only way the fissure can be treated is through surgery.

Anal fistula

Another quite common cause of blood in stool is the medical condition called anal fistula or a fistula-in-ano. An anal fistula is an abnormal connection between the anal canal and the skin near the rectal outlet or opening. An anal fistula is often caused by an anorectal abscess, which comes about as a result of an infection in the anal gland. This condition can also be caused by intestinal problems such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and diverticulitis.

A fistula-in-ano normally comes along with severe pains (especially when you sit down) and heavy bleeding during bowel movements.

This condition requires surgery in order to be treated.

Diverticular disease

This disease makes a person to suffer from small pouches (diverticula) in the lining of his or her lower bowel. Sometimes the blood vessels in the diverticula can get ruptured and bleed. This is the reason why people suffering from this condition often experience heavy bleeding during bowel movements. The bleeding is normally painless.

It’s worth noting that Diverticular disease is more common in older people than it is in younger people.

How is diveritcular disease treated?

There are a variety of ways to go about treating Diverticulosis. The most common of these treatments include: going on a special diet and taking antibiotics. In severe cases, surgery might be needed to treat the condition.

Bowel cancer

Rectal bleeding is a symptom that anyone suffering from bowel cancer experiences. This is the reason why some people get extremely scared when they first notice that they are experiencing heavy bleeding during bowel movements.

But what is bowel cancer?

Bowel (colon or rectal) cancer is a cancer that begins in the large bowel. It is a very common type of cancer. According to the NHS in England, bowel cancer is so common that one in every 20 people in the United Kingdom suffers from the cancer during their lifetime

Despite all the advancement in science, the exact cause of bowel cancer still remains unknown. However, there are certain things that can increase a person's risk of suffering from this type of cancer. Bowel cancer is more common in the following groups of people:

  • People aged 60 years and over
  • People who take too much alcohol
  • People who are obese,
  • People who eat a lot of processed meat
  • People who smoke

Also, you increase your risk of suffering from bowel cancer if you don't engage in physical activity.

How bowel cancer is treated

There are a variety of ways bowel cancer can be treated. The most common treatment methods include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy.

Other causes of rectal bleeding

Other things that can also cause rectal bleeding include the following:

  • Diarrhea
  • Ulcers (peptic or stomach ulcers)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which is an inflammation of the small or large intestine
  • Esophageal problems such as a tear in the esophagus
  • Anal cancer (the symptoms of this cancer are almost similar to the symptoms of hemorrhoids)
  • Crohn's disease

Conclusion

Of all the causes of rectal bleeding mentioned in this hub, piles (hemorrhoids) and anal fissure happen to be the most common. More often than not, when a person is experiencing bleeding during bowel movements, it is either because the person has developed piles or has an anal fissure.

Despite this, it is never advisable to self diagnose. You should see your GP the moment you realize that you are suffering from rectal bleeding because sometimes it can be a sign of something more sinister. Your GP will conduct a rectal examination on you and find out the exact cause of your rectal bleeding and of course provide you with the necessary treatment.

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