Blood in the Stool (Rectal Bleeding)

  • Medical Author:
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)
    Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)

    Bhupinder S. Anand, MBBS, MD, DPHIL (OXON)

    Dr. Anand received MBBS degree from Medical College Amritsar, University of Punjab. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at the Postgraduate Institute of medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India. He was trained in the field of Gastroenterology and obtained the DPhil degree. Dr. Anand is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.

the human colon

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Can rectal bleeding (blood in the stool) be prevented?

Most diseases that cause rectal bleeding are likely preventable, but it often is not possible.

  • Hemorrhoids can be avoided with proper diet and by prevention of constipation and straining to pass stool, but normal pregnancy increases the risk of hemorrhoid formation as does the  acute diarrheal illness.
  • Avoiding constipation is believed to decrease the risk of diverticulosis, outpouchings in the lining of the colon, and the risk of a diverticular bleed.
  • Alcohol abuse increases the risk of rectal bleeding in a variety of ways, from directly irritating the lining of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, to decreasing clotting capabilities of blood.

What is the prognosis of rectal bleeding (blood in the stool)?

The prognosis depends upon the underlying cause of the bleeding. Fortunately, the cause of rectal bleeding often is benign, and due to hemorrhoids or an anal fissure.

It is important to never ignore blood in the stool or rectal bleeding. It may be a clue to a serious illness and the earlier a diagnosis can be made, the better the chance for a cure.

REFERENCE:

Penner, R. M., MD, et al. "Blood in the stool (rectal bleeding) in adults (Beyond the Basics)." UpToDate. Updated Sep 3, 2015.
<http://www.uptodate.com/contents/blood-in-the-stool-rectal-bleeding-in-adults-beyond-the-basics>

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/4/2016

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