Rectal Bleeding: Care Instructions

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The parts of the lower digestive system

Your Care Instructions

Rectal bleeding in small amounts is common. You may see red spotting on toilet paper or drops of blood in the toilet. Rectal bleeding has many possible causes, from something as minor as hemorrhoids to something as serious as colon cancer. You may need more tests to find the cause of your bleeding.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Avoid aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve). They can cause you to bleed more. Ask your doctor if you can take acetaminophen (Tylenol). Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Use a stool softener that contains bran or psyllium. You can save money by buying bran or psyllium (available in bulk at most health food stores) and sprinkling it on foods or stirring it into fruit juice. You can also use a product such as Metamucil or Benefibre.
  • Take your medicines exactly as directed. Call your doctor or nurse call line if you think you are having a problem with your medicine.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse pain.
  • You have new or worse bleeding from the rectum.
  • You are dizzy or light-headed, or you feel like you may faint.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • You cannot pass stool or gas.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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