As Medical Director of the Endoscopy Center of Topeka (ECOT), I have a lot of pride in this team. From their most recent newsletter – Gut Check: your guide to digestive health – let me share with you an informative article: The Case of Rectal Bleeding.
You may ask, “Why should I be concerned about rectal bleeding?” March is Colon Cancer Awareness month and you need to be educated about the risks, especially if you are age 50+.
The Case of Rectal Bleeding
If there’s one unmentionable symptom in the world of digestive health, it’s rectal bleeding. Just hearing those words is enough to make us shudder. For those who actually experience it, mum’s often the word, even though it sends minds reeling with a slew of the worst possible scenarios, such as cancer.
While you should always talk to your doctor if you experience rectal bleeding, there’s no need to automatically assume you have a grave disease. According to the Mayo Clinic , there are several common, treatable conditions that could cause bleeding down under, including constipation and hemorrhoids.
- Constipation, which covers both infrequent bowel movements and the difficult passage of stools, is one of the most common ailments that can cause minor rectal bleeding. Constipation is usually temporary and is treated through lifestyle changes, like diet and exercise, as well as over-the-counter laxatives.
- Hemorrhoids occur when veins in the anus and rectum swell and become inflamed. About half of adults have experienced hemorrhoids by the age of 50. They can be located inside or outside the rectum, and both kinds may cause mild bleeding. Hemorrhoids usually go away on their own within a few days and can be treated with over-the-counter creams.
- Anal fissures, or tears in the lining of the anus caused by the passage of a hard stool or severe diarrhea, can also cause small amounts of rectal bleeding. Anal fissures usually heal within a few weeks, and home care remedies, such as warm baths and stool softeners, will help alleviate symptoms in the meantime.
- Diverticulosis, a common condition in people over 60, occurs when a small bulge of tissue forms on the wall of the colon due to years of natural muscle spasms. These pouches may bleed producing large amounts of blood that comes out all at once. Diverticulosis is often treated by increasing dietary fiber intake. If the pouches become inflamed or infected, a condition called diverticulitis, other treatment may be necessary.
- Colon polyps or cancer are typically one’s main concern if experiencing rectal bleeding. Polyps, abnormal growths that may turn into cancer, can bleed when they reach a large size. However, with regular preventive colonoscopies, polyps can be detected and removed before they grow large enough to bleed or turn into cancer.
Rectal bleeding always signals that something’s amiss in your digestive tract, so if you’re experiencing it, put modesty aside and tell your doctor. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner treatment can begin – and you can put your mind at ease. X
For more information or to find a GI doctor in your area, visit the Endocoscopy Center of Topeka and schedule your screening today. Be sure to share with your friends and family as well – together we can stop Colon Cancer in it’s tracks!
Go with your gut,
Dr. Shekhar Challa
This article was originally posted by Endoscopy Center of Topeka, distributed by AmSurg on March 5, 2012.