Most people notice rectal bleeding as bright red blood on toilet paper. Rectal bleeding is commonly associated with hemorrhoids, as well as digestive disorders. Most cases of rectal bleeding are not life-threatening. However, you should never ignore any signs of it.
At Colorado Colon and Rectal Specialists, dedicated proctologist and board-certified colon and rectal surgeon Lisa A. Perryman, MD, FACS, FASCRS, has extensive experience diagnosing and treating conditions of the colon and rectum. Rectal bleeding is a common occurrence. It’s imperative to locate the source of it in order to pinpoint the problem, make an accurate diagnosis, and create an appropriate treatment plan.
Dr. Perryman provides comprehensive diagnostic and treatment services for a variety of colon and rectal conditions, including hemorrhoids, at our office in Parker, Colorado. Keep reading to learn more about why you shouldn't ignore hemorrhoids.
What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are inflamed tissue just below the lining of the rectum and anus. Everyone has this tissue, however, when they become swollen and inflamed, they are referred to as hemorrhoids.There are two kinds of hemorrhoids: internal hemorrhoids occur in the lower part of the rectum, while external hemorrhoids occur beneath the skin around the anus.
Because of their location, external hemorrhoids are the most uncomfortable. Pain can be severe and may come on suddenly. If you have hemorrhoids you may feel a lump around the anus. Sometimes a blood clot forms inside an external hemorrhoid, increasing pain and discomfort. Hemorrhoids are also often itchy and easily irritated.
What causes hemorrhoids?
Increased pressure during pregnancy, straining during bowel movements, and carrying excess weight are all major contributors to the development of hemorrhoids. By the time they reach age 50, many people have experienced one or more episodes of hemorrhoids.
Internal hemorrhoids are typically painless, but they might cause some bleeding. You may see blood in your stool, or on toilet paper, but feel no other symptoms. Most people who develop hemorrhoids have a history of constipation, heavy lifting, or straining during bowel movements.
Dr. Perryman takes a complete medical history and performs a physical exam to diagnose hemorrhoids. If you have external hemorrhoids, they're typically easily diagnosed due to their location.
Dr. Perryman may examine the anal canal with an small lighted instrument called an anoscope and may perform additional exams to rule out other causes of rectal bleeding, such as colorectal polyps. Because rectal bleeding can be a sign of cancer, it's especially important to go in for a checkup if you notice blood in your stool or on toilet paper. Keep in mind that most people with rectal bleeding do not have colon cancer. However, you cannot assume it is hemorrhoids.
Treatment will depend on your situation. Most people achieve significant relief from hemorrhoids through simple lifestyle changes. Exercise is an excellent way to stimulate bowel motility and promote good bowel function. Additionally, eating more fiber reduces the risk of hemorrhoids. Fiber also reduces bowel inflammation. It's recommended to get 21-38 grams of fiber per day and to drink plenty of fluids.
If hemorrhoids can't be managed with lifestyle changes, Dr. Perryman can discuss office treatments such as rubber band ligation, which involves painlessly placing a small rubber band around the base of the hemorrhoid, causing it to shrink. A hemorrhoidectomy is an outpatient procedure for more involved cases that involves removing the problem tissue surgically.
Hemorrhoids rarely go away without some form of intervention, so it’s best not to ignore them. This condition is very treatable, and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed to discuss it with a medical provider. If you’ve had hemorrhoids in the past, or suspect that you may have them currently, schedule a visit with Dr. Perryman by calling 303-840-8822 or scheduling online.