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Dear Doctor: I’ve recently noticed blood in the toilet when having a bowel movement.  Should I be concerned?

This is a very common complaint amongst our patients.  Although common, it should be taken seriously.  Bleeding with bowel movements, whether just on the toilet paper, mixed with the stool, and/or dripping in the toilet water is a sign of something abnormal.

Your colon and rectal surgeon will want to know how long it has been going on, the frequency of the bleeding, the volume of the bleeding, whether it involves anal pain, and the color of the blood.  Unfortunately, bright red blood does not always mean that the bleeding is coming from the low rectum or anus… a common misconception.

Bleeding can be a sign of benign processes like hemorrhoids, anal fissures or tears, intestinal inflammation, diverticulosis, and excessive wiping after a bowel movement, just to name a few.  However, even small volumes of blood can be a sign of cancer, large polyps, or a warning sign of a heavier bleed to come.

The bottom line is if you see blood, it’s best to have it checked out.  Fortunately, we can often diagnose the source of the bleeding in the office with a thorough discussion of your symptoms and a physical exam.  The exam should not be painful and we strive to make patients comfortable.  If the evaluation requires additional testing, such as a colonoscopy, this can be arranged quickly and should be painless.  Patients are comfortably sedated and can be back to their normal routines by the following day.  Do not ignore the bleeding.  For more information or to schedule an appointment please contact our UT Physicians Colon and Rectal Clinic.

Omar I. Madriz, M.D. and Scott T. McKnight, M.D. treat patients at the UT Physicians Colon and Rectal Clinic at Katy.  For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact the clinic at 713.486.4730.  Clinic location:  Memorial Hermann Katy, Medical Plaza 1, 23920 Katy Freeway, Suite 580, Katy, TX 77494.

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