What Causes Rectal Bleeding and Rectal Pain?

Información en español

You could have rectal bleeding for several reasons. Because of this, we recommend a complete rectal exam to fully evaluate the cause. Occasionally we might also need a colonoscopy for further evaluation.

Causes of rectal bleeding and pain includes:

  • Hemorrhoids,
  • Anal fissures, or
  • Excessive constipation or diarrhea.

Less common causes include:

Rectal Bleeding & Rectal Pain Treatment

Before you come for a doctor’s visit, you can try several treatments to improve your symptoms. These lifestyle changes may provide overall health and lifestyle benefits as well. Some treatments help relieve symptoms right away. Others involve making changes in your diet and exercise habits.

Add Fiber to Your Diet

Adding fiber to your diet can help improve bowel function by making stools softer and easier to pass. It can also solidify liquid stools. You should be getting 25-30 grams of fiber per day in your diet.

While including more fiber in your diet is best, it can be difficult for most people to meet this goal by diet alone. Taking a fiber supplement is a good way to increase your fiber intake and meet this goal. We suggest trying these fiber rich foods or ways to add fiber to your diet.

Examples of fiber-rich foods:

  • Whole grains, such as wheat bran, corn bran, and brown rice
  • Vegetables, especially carrots, broccoli, cabbage, and peas
  • Fruits, such as apples, bananas, raspberries, peaches, prunes, and pears
  • Nuts and legumes, especially peanuts, lentils, and kidney beans

Easy ways to add fiber:

  • Start your day with a high-fiber breakfast. Eat a wheat bran cereal along with a sliced banana. Or, try peanut butter on whole-wheat toast.
  • Eat carrot sticks for snacks.
  • Use whole-grain breads instead of white bread for sandwiches.
  • Eat fruits for treats. Try an apple and some raspberries instead of candy or other processed sweets.
  • Look at the packaging of foods you eat to see how much dietary fiber is contained in a serving. Choose foods that have high dietary fiber.

Fiber supplementation:

Common over-the-counter supplements include Metamucil, Citrucel, and Benefiber. Follow the directions on the packaging. For example, mix 1 heaping tablespoon of Citrucel with at least 8 ounces of water or other fluid daily. You can increase the dose to three times daily as your body adjusts to the supplement.

Fiber supplements can initially cause some abdominal bloating, cramping and gas. Your body will adjust to it over the course of a week. You can increase or decrease the dose as needed.

Drink a glass of water each time you take your fiber.

Drink More Water

Along with a high-fiber diet, drinking more water can help improve your bowel function. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Nutritionists recommend about eight to 10 cups of water a day.   

Get More Exercise

Getting regular exercise helps your digestion and to prevent constipation. It’s also great for your health. Low-impact activities, such as swimming or walking, are good places to start. Take it easy at first. And remember to drink plenty of water when you exercise.

Develop Good Bowel Habits

Use the bathroom when you need to. Don’t ignore the urge to pass a bowel movement. This can lead to constipation, hard stools, and straining.

Also, don’t read or use your cell phone while on the toilet. Sit only as long as needed, less than 10 minutes. Wipe gently with soft, unscented toilet paper.

Managing Constipation, Diarrhea, & Pain

Managing Constipation

If you have constipation in spite of the fiber supplementation and a healthy diet, use:

  • Polyethylene glycol (MiraLax), an over-the-counter gentle laxative.
  • Docusate (Colace), an over-the-counter stool softener.

The goal is eventually to use diet, fiber supplementation, and exercise to keep stools soft.

Managing Diarrhea

If you have diarrhea in spite of taking fiber supplements and a healthy diet, you should:

  • Avoid foods that give you diarrhea.
  • Try loperamide, an over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medicine.

Managing Anal Pain

To reduce pain, take care of the skin around your anus.

Wipe gently or clean the area with warm water from a squirt bottle then pat the area dry.

Soak in a warm bath or take a sitz bath. A sitz bath is sitting in a few inches of warm bath water. Soaking for 10 minutes twice a day can provide relief. It can also help the area stay clean. 

Place an ice pack on your anus to get more immediate pain relief. Use the ice for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Keep a cloth between the ice and your skin to prevent skin damage.   

You can use these over the counter medicines to relieve your symptoms:

  • Apply witch hazel (Tucks, Preparation-H pads, and the like) after bowel movements.
  • Use Dibucaine one percent ointment (over-the-counter) twice daily as you need it. You should only use this, however, a week at a time.
  • Use Phenylephrine 0.25 percent ointment (Preparation-H) after bowel movements for up to two weeks.

Find A Colorectal Specialist

Make an Appointment with a Colorectal Specialist

Referrals are welcome but not necessary when making an appointment with a member of the U of U Health colorectal surgery team. To request an appointment, call 801-587-5854 or request an appointment online.