Until you figure out for sure what that weird bulge is, as far South as you can go on your body, it can be a little scary.
This information will help you understand conditions often confused with hemorrhoids, so you can figure out if it’s actually a hemorrhoid you’re treating. One of the reasons that hemorrhoids can be scary and embarrassing is the bleeding that is often associated with them. Bleeding from your rectum can mean cancer. As a result, it is natural for us to want to figure out if our problem is a hemorrhoid or another condition that might be more dangerous.
Once your doctor has helped you figure out if it is a hemorrhoid, then he can help you decide if you’re going to do better of with a medical/surgical hemorrhoid treatment or with a natural alternative.
Hemorrhoids share symptoms with other conditions, often confusing the person suffering with discomfort. Itching of the anus and bulges around the anal opening are one indicator of hemorrhoids, but also are symptomatic of other conditions. Blood in the toilet bowl, on toilet tissue, and in the stool are also symptomatic of several conditions. This is caused from straining, in which the thin lining of the bulging veins is torn. In some cases, the patient may feel that he did not get completely clean after a bowel movement.
Pain is common with hemorrhoids because of the swelling and because of the location. In some cases, the bulges go away after the bowel movement. In more severe cases, the bulges don’t go away, and present a constant source of irritation. In the cases in which the bulges are contained within the anus, the patient may not realize the source of the problem.
There are several medical conditions that are often confused with hemorrhoids.
1. Anal Fissure
An anal fissure can make defecation extremely painful, and usually will result in bleeding. An anal fissure is actually a crack or tear in the anus. It’s usually, for some reason, at the posterior of the anal canal. There is also a skin tag present in most cases. This skin tag is often misidentified by the patient as a hemorrhoid. However, this is merely skin that is left from the tear.
As the patient strains during a bowel movement, the anus may tear. This is very painful, and causes bleeding as evidenced by blood in the stool or on the toilet tissue. Only a medical doctor performing a physical examination can determine whether you have an anal fissure or a hemorrhoid. The symptoms are similar, so an exam is necessary.
2. Ulcerative Colitis
Usually, if you have rectal bleeding after diarrhea, it is an indication of ulcerative colitis. Constipation is associated with hemorrhoids. However, chronic diarrhea can also trigger hemorrhoids, due to the constant irritation. If there are members of your family who have had ulcerative colitis, and you have the same symptoms, you may have the condition. You can also have ulcerative colitis and hemorrhoids, as well. The discomfort is similar, with difficulty standing for long periods of time, as you may feel like your rectum is going to “fall out”. Discomfort when sitting is also common, as that irritates the most sensitive part of your anatomy.
The biggest difference between ulcerative colitis and hemorrhoids is that there is not typically a bulge associated with the former. The rectum is quite often fine, with sections of the colon affected by the colitis. Endoscopy is necessary to determine the exact source of the problem. While a physical exam may rule out hemorrhoids, endoscopy may be necessary to determine whether the problem is ulcerative colitis or something else.
3. Crohn’s Disease
Sometimes, when a person has bleeding during bowel movements, they may think they have hemorrhoids when they actually have Crohn’s Disease. Like Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease is usually associated with diarrhea rather than constipation. However, the fact that hemorrhoids are irritated by both may cause some individual misdiagnosis. Some 700,000 people in America have Crohn’s.
With Crohn’s, the patient will experience persistent cases of diarrhea. In many cases, he will experience the sense of needing to have an emergency bowel movement. Cramping and pain in the abdomen is also common, which is not present with hemorrhoids. The patient will also have the feeling that he or she has not completely eliminated after a bowel movement. The constant diarrhea can also trigger constipation, also associated with hemorrhoids. Anal fissures can also occur due to the constant pressure and irritation.
The person suffering from Crohn’s may experience fever and poor appetite, and fatigue, as well. While you may thing you have these symptoms, only a medical exam can truly diagnose the condition. A family history of Crohn’s disease is also an indication that you may have it.
4. Anal Fistula
An anal fistula can often be confused with hemorrhoids. There are anal glands that drain into the anus. The opening to these glands must remain unclogged. If it becomes clogged, it will create an abscess. If this abscess is not treated, it will become even further inflamed and try to rise to the surface. At this point, the abscess becomes a fistula. This can become full of pus. The fistula also has a discharge which is purulent and/or bloody.
While an anal fistula is not dangerous, it is very painful. If this is a recurring problem, is can actually affect a person’s overall health. It can also spread infection, if it remains untreated. Surgery is necessary to alleviate the condition. The abscess can be drained, and the situation remedied. This has to be diagnosed and remedied by a doctor.
5. Rectal Prolapse
Due to the fact that hemorrhoids may have prolapsed, hanging out of the anal opening, many people confuse this with a rectal prolapse. The symptoms are the same – a protruding or bulging cushion that especially occurs when the person is straining during a bowel movement. It may or not bleed. However, if there is mucus present, it is more likely to be a rectal prolapse. There may be a problem controlling fecal discharge, meaning that incontinence may be a result.
In most cases, rectal prolapsed is diagnosed only by a doctor during a physical. You may have to be anesthetized in order to determine the extent of the prolapse, as well as its severity.
6. Colorectal Cancer
While a person with colorectal cancer may also have hemorrhoids, the symptoms between cancer and hemorrhoids are not the same. Cancer will suffer anemia or be diagnosed with colonic polyps. Endoscopy is required for full diagnosis.