Feeling the urgent need to visit the loo the moment you eat something? Having trouble defecating? Spotted something different about the color of your stool?
If you are facing any of these symptoms, chances are you’re experiencing digestive tract problems. Either it is not functioning well, or your stomach and intestines are putting more effort into doing their job. Many factors can impact your bowel movements, food consumption being one.
The food you eat requires six to eight hours to move through your stomach and small intestines—and another 36 hours to pass through the entire colon. From the time you consume food to the time it excretes from your body, the whole process takes two to five days, depending on the function of your digestive system.
Digestive issues are pretty common and often arise if you take a low fiber diet, don’t get enough exercise, frequently travel, or consume a large amount of dairy. As a result, you may often feel heartburn, nauseous after mealtimes, or bloated. While these issues are easily treatable with over-the-counter medications, some require a physician’s attention and a proper treatment plan. Anal bleeding is one such condition.
If you are frequently noticing a small amount of fresh-red or black blood in the toilet bowl or on the toilet paper, it can be a sign of an underlying digestive disease. The reasons for anal bleeding can be hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, or complex and colorectal cancer.
This article aims to highlight the causes, risk factors, and symptoms of rectal bleeding.
What are the causes?
Blood in your stool may result from improper digestion or insufficient fibers in your food, among various other reasons. Some mild causes associated with rectal bleeding are:
- Anal Fissures– It refers to a small cut or tears in the lining of the anus. The crack in the skin can lead to severe pain and bleeding after a bowel movement. Although fissures are not a serious condition and can affect people of all ages, they can lead to painful bowel movements and rectal bleeding. These fissures don’t last long, but you might need to visit a doctor if you constantly notice the bleeding.
- Constipation– It is one of the most common gastrointestinal diseases affecting approximately 2.5 million people in the United States and a common cause of rectal bleeding. People suffering from constipation often have hard and dry bowel movements leading to anal bleeding.
- Hemorrhoids– Almost 50% of adults in their 50s complain of having hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins located around the anus or in the lower rectum. They are commonly known as piles. Rectal bleeding is one of the symptoms of having hemorrhoids. If you see blood in your stool, your doctor might look for hemorrhoids to identify the cause.
- Colorectal Cancer– Colorectal cancer is one of the complex causes of rectal bleeding. It affects one out of 500-600 people. The target site of this cancer is the colon or lower part of the rectum, and in some cases, both. It entails the abnormal cell division in the tissue lining of the large intestine or anus that may lead to rectal bleeding as the first sign of cancer.
Multiple factors can increase the risk of developing rectal bleeding. However, not all people with these symptoms may face the issue. Some of the common risk factors are:
- Abdominal gas– Abdominal gas occurs when we swallow air while eating or drinking. Usually, when we burp, the gas is released. However, constant abdominal gas can result in increased pressure on the rectum resulting in rectal bleeding.
- Alcohol– People consuming too much alcohol may also develop rectal bleeding. Excessive drinking may result in esophageal varices (swollen veins in the esophagus that may rupture) and cause rectal bleeding.
- Age- People in their 50s are more commonly affected by gastrointestinal diseases as their stomach lining weakens. Older age results in weakened intestinal blood vessels leading to symptoms of rectal bleeding.
- Family History– Sometimes, our genetics also play a role in the development of certain diseases. For example, a family history of gastrointestinal diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease can lead to rectal bleeding.
Symptoms of Rectal Bleeding
Although not every sign or symptom indicates rectal bleeding, it is safer to seek treatment if you experience pain or notice something unusual in your stool. If bleeding is noticeable and recurring, or you face one of the following signs, call 911 or use the emergency room for urgent medical assistance!
- Cold, clammy skin: If you are a healthy individual with no chronic or acute disease but notice excessive sweating on your skin, it can signify rectal bleeding.
- Dizziness: Since rectal bleeding entails losing fresh blood during or after a bowel movement, temporary anemia can be the first sign indicating blood loss in your body. Constant intestinal bleeding can also cause cold sweats and lethargy, accounting for possible anemia.
- Painful abdominal cramps
- Severe anal pain
- Severe nausea
Other complex signs and symptoms of rectal bleeding include a feeling of fullness in the anal area, frequent changes in bowel movement, or discharge of other fluids from the anus.
Our health entails every aspect of our body. Whether you are a grab-and-go food person or have a healthy diet, it plays a vital role in your digestive health. This becomes apparent when you eat something spicy and feel heartburn or get diarrhea – the stomach and intestines have to work differently.
Digestive issues are common and may come and go depending on your consumption habits, but conditions like piles, constipation, or rectal bleeding can point towards other underlying health conditions. It’s essential to take preventive measures such as exercising, taking a high fiber diet, and ensuring the rectal area’s proper hygiene.