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RECTAL BLEEDING

When to Seek Medical Care

When rectal bleeding is present with one or more of the following symptoms, call your doctor:

  • Fever  
  • Stomach pain or swelling
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Bleeding continues or worsens
  • Recent weight loss  
  • Altered bowel habits
  • Severe or prolonged diarrhea  
  • Pencil-sized stools, involuntary seepage of stools, or inability to have a bowel movement

If any of these signs and symptoms are present, a visit to the hospital's emergency department is warranted:

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Self-Care at Home

If minimal rectal bleeding, such as blood-streaked toilet tissue, is the source of the problem, it may be due to hemorrhoids or a rectal fissure. Home therapy can be attempted. All other causes of rectal bleeding should be evaluated and treated by a physician in a timely fashion.

  • Self-care of rectal bleeding may include various rectal ointments and suppositories. These can be bought over-the-counter without a prescription. Still, if your symptoms are not improved within 1 week of treatment or you are older than 40 years, you should see your doctor for further evaluation.
  • Simple home care of rectal bleeding might involve these actions:
    • Drink 8-10 glasses of water per day.
    • Bathe or shower daily to cleanse the skin around the anus.
    • Decrease straining with bowel movements.
    • Increase fiber in the diet with supplements such as Metamucil or foods such as prunes.
    • Avoid sitting on the toilet too long.
    • Apply ice packs to the affected area to decrease pain.

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