Rectal bleeding can be alarming – you might see blood on the toilet paper or on the stool itself. Regardless of where it appears or how it looks, rectal bleeding is usually a sign of a larger problem: inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
What Does Rectal Bleeding Mean?
Inflammatory bowel disease is a generic term for two diseases: ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The former only affects the colon (intestine), as the word “colitis” literally translates to “colon inflammation.” The latter can affect any part of your digestive system.
Rectal bleeding is one of the main symptoms that can accompany both of these two conditions. The shade of the blood can indicate where you’re bleeding:
- Bright red blood: bleeding in the colon or rectum
- Maroon colored blood: bleeding higher up in the colon or in the small intestine
- Dark, tar-like blood: bleeding in the stomach
It’s also possible to have rectal bleeding that’s undetectable except to a doctor.
Can Rectal Bleeding from Inflammatory Bowel Disease Be Treated?
Yes – the good news is that most cases of rectal bleeding due to inflammatory bowel disease can be successfully mitigated or stopped completely. Although there is no known cure for inflammatory bowel disease, the symptoms can be controlled in several ways, including the following:
If your doctor determines that your rectal bleeding is due to an infection, they may prescribe antibiotics. For example, Crohn’s disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease that may be accompanied by a bacterial infection, and this can be treated via prescription antibiotics.
Immune System Suppressors
If the symptoms of your inflammatory bowel disease are getting in the way of living a normal life, your gastroenterologist may prescribe immune system suppressors. These drugs stop your body from producing chemicals that cause inflammation. This is usually recommended for moderate to severe cases only.
Medication isn’t always enough to control the symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease, including rectal bleeding. Your doctor will recommend making certain changes in your diet in addition to taking medicine. It’s best to limit or eliminate the following foods and ingredients from your diet:
- Whole grains
- Nuts and seeds
If medication and diet cannot control your rectal bleeding and other IBD symptoms, then your doctor may recommend surgery to address the issue. Your gastroenterologist will explain what is involved if your inflammatory bowel disease reaches the point of warranting surgery.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease Treatment in Carlisle, PA
If you notice blood in your stool that lasts for a few days or more, schedule an appointment with an experienced gastroenterologist. If inflammatory bowel disease is treated early, you will likely be able to avoid invasive treatments such as surgery.
If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment with a skilled gastroenterologist, contact our friendly staff at Carlisle Digestive Disease Associates today by calling (717) 245-2228, or fill out our online appointment request form. We look forward to serving you!