Rectal bleeding is a very common problem affecting people. Any type or quantity of blood that one notices coming from the rectal area is considered rectal bleeding, whether it is or is not associated with a bowel movement. The most common cause for rectal bleeding is hemorrhoids, which can either occur around the anus (external hemorrhoids) or inside the rectum just above the anus (internal hemorrhoids). Another cause of rectal bleeding is an anal fissure, which is a tear in the skin lining the anus. Typically, bleeding from this is associated with pain, particularly during defecation.
While hemorrhoids and anal fissures are common and benign causes of rectal bleeding, it is important for one not to presume his or her rectal bleeding is due to these conditions. Tumors, polyps, or diverticuli in the rectum or colon can cause rectal bleeding. Inflammation of the rectum (proctitis) or colon(colitis) are other causes. Whenever one sees blood arising from the rectal area, one should consult with his or her physician. The physician may recommend further testing such as a flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy to identify the cause of the rectal bleeding.