Rectal bleeding means any blood that
you see when you have your bowels open - in the toilet on or in the poo or on
the toilet paper.
Some people assume that if they see blood only on the toilet paper
after cleaning themselves, this is from piles and is not important.
Usually they are right – most rectal or anal bleeding is pretty normal.
It comes from veins we all have just inside the back passage or anus.
These veins are normal structures, although in some young people they can
be quite large. The bleeding can occur for no obvious reason although it can be
caused by straining or from small abrasions to the skin caused by hard motions
However, bleeding becomes more significant the older you get -
particularly when you are over 50.
Most people feel they don’t need to take any notice if the blood is
fresh and bright red. Although this sort of bleeding is less worrying, you
should report it to a doctor if it persists. Dark red, old or altered
bleeding may be more significant, but it can still be from something simple
Rectal bleeding is very common, particularly in people below the age of
50. Seven million people (almost 1 in 5 of the population!) have it every year
in the UK but only
one in a thousand (0.1%) will have serious disease.
Most people (over 6 out of 10) do not report bleeding to their doctor
immediately, probably because it stops quickly or they have been straining to
pass a hard or dry stool. The doctor might say you are bleeding from your
piles as a way of reassuring you that the bleeding isn’t serious. For
most people, it requires no further treatment and stops by itself.
Some patients use creams and suppositories from the chemist to treat
symptoms like soreness, pain, burning, discomfort, itchiness, lumpiness or
prolapse of the veins around the anus. Prolapsed piles may require
pushing back by hand after cleaning.
Remember - it is almost normal to have rectal bleeding for some simple
reason for the majority of people. But the older you are (over 50), if you have
no reason for the bleeding and it persists, do see your GP.