Rectal bleeding can refer to any blood that passes from your anus, although rectal bleeding is usually assumed to refer to bleeding from your lower colon or rectum. Your rectum makes up the last few inches of your large intestine.
Rectal bleeding may show up as blood in your stool, on the toilet paper or in the toilet bowl. Blood that results from rectal bleeding is usually bright red in color, but occasionally can be dark maroon.
Rectal bleeding may occur for many reasons. Common causes of rectal bleeding include:
Less common causes of rectal bleeding include:
Seek emergency help if you have significant rectal bleeding and any signs of shock:
Have someone drive you to an emergency room if rectal bleeding is:
Make an appointment to see your doctor if you have rectal bleeding that lasts more than a day or two, or earlier if the bleeding worries you.
Generally, people younger than 40 who whose rectal bleeding is from an obvious cause, such as hemorrhoids, don't need testing. However, many doctors recommend tests such as a colonoscopy for people older than 40 to rule out any possibility of also having cancer that's contributing to the bleeding.