What Causes Anal/Rectal Bleeding?
Anal/Rectal bleeding can be caused by a number of things, including hemorrhoids. It is important to find out what is causing your bleeding so that you can get proper treatment.
Internal hemorrhoids are the most common cause of anal/rectal bleeding. The bleeding usually occurs during bowel movements and is bright red. You may notice it on the toilet paper, the surface of the stool, or the toilet bowl itself. Anal/rectal bleeding from hemorrhoids is typically mild and intermittent, but it is occasionally very heavy and causes anemia. Internal hemorrhoids are actually present in every person. They become problematic when the blood vessels dilate and bleed. This leads to a number of symptoms including anal/rectal pain, swelling, or itching.
If your stool is dark red or black this is usually due to digested blood from the stomach or esophagus. This can be caused by an ulcer, inlfammation-gastritis, or dilated blood vessels caused by cirrhosis of the liver. If you eat a lot of black licorice, have high lead or iron in your diet, or take a lot of Pepto Bismol this can also cause black stools.
Red or maroon colored stool is called hematocheziaalso known as lower gastrointestinal bleeding. This can be caused by diverticulosis, angiodysplasia, inflammatory bowel disease, polyps, cancer, colitis, radiation damage, or complications from aortic surgery or graft placement. This type of bleeding may be life threatening and requires an immediate trip to the emergency room.
Although anal/rectal complaints are typically thought to be hemorrhoids, it can also be due to fissures, external hemorrhoids thrombosis, colon cancer, proctitis, STIs, Pruritus Ani from fungal or bacterial infections, ulcerative colitis, diverticulosos, arterio-venous malformations, Crohn's disease, hemangiomas, or rectal varices.
Diagnosing Anal/Rectal Bleeding
Do not assume that anal/rectal bleeding is due to hemorrhoids. As mentioned above, it can be cause by a number of things. A physical exam, rectal exam, sigmoidoscopy, and sometimes a colonoscopy is necessary to determine the cause of the bleeding and rule out conditions such as colon or rectal cancer. A change in your bowel habits, weight loess, or abdominal pain may require additional testing. Anal/rectal bleeding in someone over the age of 45 that is not typical of hemorrhoidal symptoms (or does not improve after hemorrhoid banding) requires further exploration with a colonoscopy. However, some patients under the age of 45 may also require a colonoscopy as well. Sexually transmitted diseases of the anus/rectum such as HPV, syphilis, gonorrhea, or herpes may also cause anal/rectal bleeding.
Treating Anal/Rectal Bleeding from Hemorrhoids
If your anal/rectal bleeding is from hemorrhoids, try adding fiber to your diet and limiting time spent on the toilet to a few minutes at most. You should also have your hemorrhoids treated with non-surgical hemorrhoid banding. Hemorrhoid creams and cold compresses can cause temporary relief, but treatment will ultimately be necessary.
Fear and embarrassment typically lead to patients delaying treatment for their hemorrhoids. Over 50% of people suffer from hemorrhoids at some point in their life. At the Hemorrhoid Relief Center, it is our goal to provide you with quick and painless treatment for your hemorrhoids. Our staff is here to make you feel as comfortable as possible. Our hemorrhoid treatment is covered by most health insurance plans. Call us to verify if we accept your insurance, or to discuss setting up a private payment plan.