Hemorrhoids and Bloody Stool


Endoscopic image of internal hemorrhoids seen on retroflexion of the flexible sigmoidoscope at the ano-rectal junction

There are various health conditions that can lead to bloody stools. They can be minor or very serious depending on the color of one’s stool. A blackened stool usually means that the complication is from the gastrointestinal tract, whereas bloody stool can signify complications in the rectum.

Red blood in the stool comes mostly from tears in the rectum caused by hemorrhoids. Otherwise known as piles, hemorrhoids are inflamed and swollen veins in the rectum that result from too much strain during bowel movement, childbearing and labor, among others.

Hemorrhoids are very common. As a matter of fact, based from data coming from the National Institutes of Health, about 50 percent of the population of the United States aged 50 and above have hemorrhoids.

Knowing the Signs and Symptoms

Hemorrhoids can either be internal or external. Internal hemorrhoids can be found inside the rectum and do not usually cause too much pain. However, irritation because of bowel movement and hard stool may inflame the hemorrhoids that can lead to bleeding. On worse cases, too much straining may push the hemorrhoids out of the rectum to the opening of the anus. This can be very painful for the affected person.

On the other hand, external hemorrhoids manifest itself as skin tags or excess skin surrounding the anus. They are very itchy when irritated. Symptoms and signs of hemorrhoids will depend on the location.

  • Bleeding during bowel movement without pain
  • Irritation surrounding the anal area
  • Swelling in the anus
  • Painful lump near the anus
  • Leaking of stool

Once a person sees blood in stool, seeing a doctor is a must. It is not safe to assume that hemorrhoids is the cause because rectal bleeding can take place with other diseases as well.

Possible Causes of Hemorrhoids

Stretching because of too much pressure is the main culprit in getting hemorrhoids. Once a person exerts too much effort in bowel movement, this translates to too much pressure in the rectum that can affect the veins and make them enlarged. Constipation thereby is one of the main causes of hemorrhoids.

Aside from that, other possible causes of hemorrhoids include health conditions such as obesity, pregnancy, chronic diarrhea, and anal intercourse.

There are also studies suggesting that hemorrhoids come with age. Elderly people are prone to constipation because of the normal degenerative phase of the body that comes with aging. As a person gets old, the tissues that aid the veins in the rectum grow weak. Other researches claim that hemorrhoids can be inherited as well.

If these signs and symptoms are not addressed immediately, it can lead to serious complications. One of which is anemia. Decreased presence of healthy red cells because of chronic blood loss from hemorrhoids can make a person weak. Another complication is called strangulated hemorrhoid that is caused by low blood supply to the rectum. This causes severe pain and may lead to tissue death in some cases.

How Hemorrhoids are Diagnosed?

An appointment to a physician will give the patient several ways of dealing with hemorrhoids and at the same time prevent other complications. The doctor will observe the anus and the rectum to verify if the patient really has hemorrhoids. Certain health conditions such as warts, fissures, and polyps can manifest the same signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids.

Aside from physical examinations, there are additional tests that should be done especially among people aged 40 and up and they are the following: barium enema x-ray, colonoscopy, and sigmoidoscopy.

Treating Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids can be treated easily. Simple lifestyle and diet changes can significantly reduce most symptoms of hemorrhoids. Increasing fiber in the diet to promote good bowel movement can prevent hemorrhoids from getting irritated.

Adequate water intake is also highly recommended. About eight to 10 glasses of water in a day will suffice. As well as proper exercise. There are studies closely linking the importance of exercise in preventing constipation. Once the patient get rids of constipation, then there will be fewer episodes with hemorrhoids.

Some patients will be advised by their physician to take in medications and suppositories to soften the stool. But during worse-case scenarios, surgery might be needed.