Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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Rectal Bleeding

Bleeding from the intestines can be alarming, and it can be difficult to estimate the volume of blood you are seeing. It is important to receive urgent medical attention if you have a substantial bleed. Please review the typical symptoms of a large rectal bleed and minimal rectal bleeding, so you can estimate your own quantity of bleeding.

Symptoms of a large rectal bleed

If you have a large rectal bleed, you may have bright red, dark red or maroon-colored blood pour from your rectum into a pool on your clothing or bedding, or into the toilet. You may pass visible clots along with the blood. The blood may appear black and may have the thick and sticky texture of tar. These changes occur if the blood has been partially digested by passing through a part of your upper digestive tract. Black, tarry blood is called "melena." Large rectal bleeds can result in dizziness or fainting spells, anemia, or a need for blood transfusion.

Symptoms of minimal rectal bleeding

Many people experience small amounts of bleeding from the rectum. Small amounts of blood can soak or spot toilet tissue, can leave small or large blood spots on undergarments, can drip into the toilet, and can change the toilet water to bright pink or red. Minimal rectal bleeding usually stops within one or two minutes each time it occurs.

Please choose the most accurate statement about your bleeding:

dash  My symptoms can be described as minimal rectal bleeding.
dash  My symptoms show I have had a large rectal bleed.

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Harvard Health Publications Source: from the Harvard Health Publications Family Health Guide, Copyright © 2007 by President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.

Used with permission of StayWell.

Use of this content is subject to specified Terms and Conditions and a Medical Disclaimer.

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