Many toddlers experience rectal bleeding, and its causes vary from benign problems such as constipation to more severe disorders. Blood in the stool is usually a remediable problem in toddlers. However, you should always consult a qualified health care provider when rectal bleeding is observed.
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Rectal bleeding in toddlers is a common occurrence and doesn't always indicate a serious health issue. There are several reasons why rectal bleeding happens. Local irritation caused by fissures, haemorrhoids, polyps and/or inflammation are often the culprits. These problems can be remedied by a change in diet to include more fibre, stool softeners or a variety of topical creams. In some cases, however, rectal bleeding in toddlers may be more serious. Blood in the stool could be an indicator of an intestinal infection or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). These are serious disorders and should be treated by a professional health care provider.
Small amounts of bright red blood in the stool is the main feature of rectal bleeding in toddlers. The blood will often be streaked along the outside of the stool. The blood may also be mixed into the stool or left behind on bathroom tissue after a bowel movement.
If the rectal bleeding is accompanied by fever, abdominal pain or weight loss, it could be a sign of a more dangerous situation. Seek professional medical advice immediately. If these symptoms are absent but the rectal bleeding is accompanied by pain, itching and burning, internal haemorrhoids are most likely to blame. Occasional and painless rectal bleeding, with blood streaked on the outside of the stool, is caused by an anal fissure. This small tear or fissure is caused by straining against a hard stool and commonly occurs in toddlers during a bout of constipation.
To prevent constipation in toddlers, thus preventing rectal bleeding caused by anal fissures, modification of the diet may be necessary. Additional fibre will help the stools pass more easily and without straining. Whole grains and other foods high in fibre such as fruits and vegetables are recommended. Prune juice is also a worthy antidote to constipation in toddlers.
In toddlers under 2 years old, frequent diaper changes will also help to prevent anal fissures. In most cases, rectal bleeding in toddlers will heal on its own without anything more than regular diaper changes and the treatment of constipation.
Any time that rectal bleeding is observed in toddlers, a physician should be consulted. There are various stool tests and X-rays that can be performed to check for dangers and serious conditions. Although rectal bleeding is a common situation in toddlers as they learn to evacuate their bowels without strain, it's much better to be safe than sorry.