Blood in Your Stool Is the Most Common Sign of a Ruptured Hemorrhoid
Noticing blood in your stool can be a frightening experience. If you’re like most people, you probably did a quick Google search and may now worry you suffer from a serious, devastating condition. The good news is, you’ve found your way here and our doctors can assure you that we see a lot more of the annoying-but-relatively-benign cases of rectal bleeding from hemorrhoids than we see more serious conditions. However, it is always paramount to see a proctologist to rule out something more sinister. In the vast majority of cases, a quick trip to the proctologist, also known as a colon and rectal surgeon, is reassuring and can offer quick relief from symptoms.
There’s Blood in My Stool. Is It Serious?
Since no one talks about them in polite conversation, many people do not realize just how common hemorrhoids are. About half of all people over the age of 50 have had at least one issue with a hemorrhoid, and many experience them chronically until they see a proctologist for hemorrhoid treatment.
External hemorrhoids often cause a burning sensation or itching in and around the anus. Internal hemorrhoids may not cause any symptoms, at least at first. All hemorrhoids may cause a small amount of bleeding, but a ruptured hemorrhoid can cause a much larger bleed. When internal hemorrhoidal veins in the anal canal rupture, the result is bright red blood that accompanies a bowel movement. Hemorrhoids may also rupture at other times, although this is not as likely. Rectal bleeding is the most common symptom of burst hemorrhoids, and often the only symptom.
In most cases, bleeding hemorrhoids are not a serious problem. The bleeding looks worrisome but is usually not cause for alarm. Hemorrhoid symptoms typically heal after a few days to a week, with simple changes to your diet and conservative treatment.
If you discover bright red blood after a bowel movement, it is most likely caused by an internal ruptured hemorrhoid. In general, light-colored, pink, or brownish-colored blood in your stool, may be an indicator of a more serious health problem. While this should put your mind at ease about bright red bleeding, you should still see a doctor about your symptoms. A proctologist can rule out more serious causes and complications, and offer advice on clearing up your hemorrhoid as soon as possible.
Other Possible Causes of Rectal Bleeding
Other causes that could be behind your rectal bleeding include:
- Anal fissure
- Crohn’s disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Rectal prolapse
- Ischemic colitis
- Anal cancer
- Colon cancer
While many people automatically worry about colon or rectal cancer, it’s much more likely to be a ruptured hemorrhoid, an anal fissure, or another similar condition. Colon cancer is still the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, though. In 2019, the American Cancer Society predicts there will be:
For this reason, it is imperative you see a doctor to rule out colorectal cancer if you experience rectal bleeding.
What Causes Ruptured Hemorrhoids
Ruptured hemorrhoids are typically caused by too much pressure on the internal veins surrounding the anus. When the walls of these veins are weakened by fatty tissue, infection, medications, or lifestyle choices, a small tear in the blood vessel wall can occur and release blood into the rectum. Some factors that can cause ruptured hemorrhoids include:
Constipation, typically caused by a low intake of dietary fiber and water, can cause hard stools to form in the colon. If you are constipated, you’re putting added pressure on your rectum when trying to pass a bowel movement. This pressure can strain the blood vessels of the rectum and cause them to rupture.
Excess Pressure on the Anus
Sitting for long periods of time can lead to ruptured hemorrhoids. Pregnant women sometimes experience rectal bleeding from ruptured hemorrhoids because of the added pressure from carrying a baby. And overweight and obese people are more at risk for ruptured hemorrhoids because excess weight places added pressure on the anus.
What To Expect at the Proctologist’s Office
For many people, going to see a proctologist is the last thing they want to do. The dread and anxiety is formidable. As a society, the topics we must discuss with a colorectal surgeon – and the body parts we have to show them – are taboo. However, your proctologist is trained to put you at ease and make talking about these uncomfortable topics more comfortable. When you know what to expect, it can also make this entire process easier.
When you arrive at your appointment, the first thing that will happen is you will sit down with the proctologist to discuss your symptoms. The doctor will also ask questions about your health history, diet and lifestyle, and more.
Once the doctor has a good understanding of why you are in the office, a nurse will take you into an exam room and have you lay down on your side. Then, the doctor will come back in for your exam. This may include:
- A visual exam
- A digital exam, where the doctor inserts a finger into your anus to feel for an internal hemorrhoid
- An anoscope exam, where the doctor inserts a small scope to see the hemorrhoid
- Scheduling other types of exams if they believe it is necessary to rule out more serious causes
Following your exam, your doctor will most likely confirm your hemorrhoid diagnosis and recommend a treatment plan to help heal the inflamed tissues as soon as possible.
How to Treat Ruptured Hemorrhoids
Treating ruptured internal hemorrhoids is similar to how we recommend treating external hemorrhoids, in most cases. We generally prescribe conservative, at-home treatments to our patients who present with a ruptured hemorrhoid. By staying in bed with your feet elevated on pillows, you can relieve some of the pressure on the hemorrhoids, allowing them to heal faster. Soaking in a warm sitz bath can help ease itching, burning, or pain. Washing off or using moist towelettes instead of toilet paper after a bowel movement can promote faster healing and prevent further injury to the sensitive skin around the anus.
We also recommend using witch hazel pads and applying a cold pack to the anus to reduce any pain and inflammation. Increasing water intake and eating more fiber can relieve constipation if it is an aggravating factor.
Surgery for Ruptured Hemorrhoids
In most cases, conservative treatment helps clear up a ruptured hemorrhoid in a few days. However, internal hemorrhoids can become a chronic condition for some people.
In rare circumstances, patients may need surgical treatment for hemorrhoids to resolve the problem. If this occurs in your case, our board-certified surgeons can discuss your options with you and help you make the right choice for you.
See a Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgeon About Your Hemorrhoid Today
If you experience rectal bleeding, a hemorrhoid may be to blame. However, it is important to rule out other causes of your symptoms. Let us put your mind at ease.
Once we confirm your ruptured hemorrhoid diagnosis, our team offers a number of treatment options. This includes using cutting-edge technology to get you back on your feet and back to work sooner. We are also specialists in all diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus, and can help you understand why you are experiencing rectal bleeding if a hemorrhoid is not to blame.
Call (310) 272-2310 today to get started. We can schedule a confidential appointment so you can discuss your ruptured hemorrhoid symptoms with a colorectal doctor.