If you spot a streak of blood on the toilet paper after using the bathroom one day, you may think to yourself that you’ve developed a case of bleeding hemorrhoids. This may be true, but there are other conditions that carry similar symptoms. Depending upon your health, your age, and your family history, educating yourself on the other possibilities may prove to be a good idea.
First examine the last bowel movement you had. Before you wiped and noticed the blood, was it painful? Did you feel a sharp, stinging pain? What sort of stool did you pass? Was it hard or did you have difficulty passing it? Usually you do not notice bleeding hemorrhoids right away; the symptoms can crop up later on. Rather, you may have developed an anal fissure. This is a small tear caused either by too much tension in the anal sphincter or due to hard bowel movements. The tear often begins at the anal sphincter and into the anal canal. Though small, it can be painful for up to a couple of hours after the bowel movement. Usually internal hemorrhoids are not painful, and while external ones are, you would notice those easier as they protrude from the anus.
If you feel a sense of itchiness, it may be an anal fistula. This occurs when a small passage from the anal canal leads out to a small hole in the skin close to the anal opening. It may sound bizarre, but it has happened after rectal surgery, if an abscess has developed in the area, or due to complications of other illnesses such as Crohn’s disease. If none of those apply to you, the itchy sensation may be due to internal hemorrhoids instead. However, if one of those does apply, the itchiness is likely from fluids passing through the hole, such as mucus and often a little bit of blood. Check with your doctor to find out what’s going on if you’re unsure in order to prevent possible infection.
Experiencing pain in the rectum may be larger internal problems, but it may also be due to large colon polyps. Usually polyps don’t cause any problems whatsoever. It has yet to be discovered as to why they actually develop. However, if they become too big they can lead to a problem. Certain types can also cause cancer. Larger polyps may cause bleeding, which you will see after bowel movements. If you suspect this is the case, call your doctor to set up an appointment. He or she will schedule various screening tests to see whether or not you have colon polyps and what can be done if you do.
Most of the time though, it’s nothing serious. If you suspect hemorrhoids, perform some home treatments and see if they help. Don’t assume the worst right away. If the itching and discomfort start to lessen, your body is already healing itself and you have nothing more to worry about.