What to Do If You Have Rectal Bleeding (With or Without Pain)
Find out what most often causes rectal bleeding, with or without pain. Learn what doctors say you should do if you experience it.
Whenever you discover you’re bleeding, it gets your attention. And it’s often easy to find the source of the blood. But when it’s rectal bleeding, the source isn’t so easy to pinpoint. And this can make anyone worry. So what are the most likely sources of rectal bleeding?
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Colorectal surgeon Massarat Zutshi, MD, discusses likely causes of rectal bleeding and explains why you should work with your doctor to find the cause if it happens to you.
Colon cancer typically starts with polyps in the colon. Early detection is the goal here, Dr. Zutshi says. Polyps are typically benign at first, and a surgeon can remove them before they become cancerous if you catch the problem early.
Dr. Zutshi emphasizes that hemorrhoids and anal fissures are responsible for rectal bleeding about 98 percent of the time. However, it’s important to let your doctor know if you experience rectal bleeding so he or she can rule out any other problems.
It’s helpful if you can make a note of how long you’ve been experiencing rectal bleeding, if it stops then starts again, and how long it lasts.
Other important information your doctor should know includes:
Even if you aren’t experiencing problems or noticing any rectal bleeding, Dr. Zutshi emphasizes that it’s vital to begin having colon cancer screenings when you turn 50. She adds that you should start having regular screenings earlier (10 years before the age of the relative when they were diagnosed with cancer) if you have any history of colon cancer in your family.
Eating a high-fiber diet and staying well hydrated can help address rectal bleeding, she says. And, you should continue those healthy habits after the bleeding stops to help keep it from recurring.