Are you concerned because you noticed a little blood in your underwear after a bowel movement? Although rectal bleeding is alarming, it's not always caused by cancer or other serious diseases or conditions. The Suffolk County, NY, gastroenterologists at Brookhaven Gastroenterology Associates share a few common reasons for rectal bleeding.
Hemorrhoids affect one in 20 people, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. By age 50, the Institute estimates that half of all men and women will have the condition. Hemorrhoids are inflamed veins that form around your anus or inside your rectum. Straining during bowel movements are a common cause of hemorrhoids. After you have a bowel movement, you may notice some bright red blood on the toilet paper if you have hemorrhoids.
Ice packs, warm baths and over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream and pain relievers can help reduce itching and discomfort. It's also important to increase your fiber and fluid intake if your condition is caused by constipation. If home treatment doesn't help, schedule a visit with our Suffolk County office to discuss hemorrhoid removal options, such as rubber band ligation or laser treatment.
Anal fissures are small tears around your anus that produce bright red blood. They also tend to occur if you strain during bowel movements. Treating constipation and taking warm baths can help your fissures heal. If they don't get better, your gastroenterologist may recommend topical anesthetics to relax the anal sphincter and decrease spasms. In severe cases, surgery may be needed.
Other causes of rectal bleeding
Rectal bleeding can also occur if you have inflammatory bowel disease, a perianal abscess, diverticulosis, ulcers or colon cancer. The appearance of the blood will vary depending on the source. If bleeding occurs in your colon or small bowel, it will look dark red, while the blood from a stomach ulcer will appear black.
Your gastroenterologist may recommend a colonscopy to determine the cause of your rectal bleeding. The minimally invasive test is performed by inserting a thin scope into your anus and passing it through your colon and the upper part of your small intestine. Viewing the transmitted images allows your doctor to remotely examine the lining of your colon for lesions, polyps or other areas of concern. It's also possible to remove polyps during the test, cauterize bleeding blood vessels and remove tissue for biopsies.
Don't ignore your rectal bleeding. Call the Suffolk County, NY, gastroenterologists at Brookhaven Gastroenterology Associates at (631) 289-0300 to schedule an appointment.