Noticing blood in your stools can understandably be alarming. However, it could have one of several causes. The most common conditions associated with bloody stools are haemorrhoids and bowel cancer.
The question is, how can you tell which condition is causing blood to appear in your stools? Below, we will look at the symptoms haemorrhoids and bowel cancer produce that you should watch out for.
Rectal bleeding caused by haemorrhoids
Haemorrhoids are known to cause rectal bleeding and they are a common health condition. They are commonly referred to as piles, and most of the time they aren’t anything to be too concerned about.
Haemorrhoids are classified by degrees, ranging from first to fourth. These relate to how much it is protruding from the anus. First degree haemorrhoids don’t protrude from the anus at all, whereas fourth degree haemorrhoids protrude and cannot be pushed back into place.
All degrees can cause some level of rectal bleeding. However, even though it is a common symptom, it is still important to get it checked out. Other symptoms that come with haemorrhoids include an itchy anus, slimy mucus from the anus and lumps or pain around the anus.
Bleeding caused by bowel cancer
Bowel cancer is one of the more serious conditions rectal bleeding can link to. It is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, affecting over 42,000 people each year. It is essential that it is caught as early as possible to ensure effective treatment.
Rectal bleeding is just one symptom to watch out for when looking for bowel cancer. Other symptoms include a persistent change in bowel habits, unexplained weight loss and persistent pain or discomfort in the abdomen.
If blood in your stools is accompanied by any of these symptoms, you should seek medical advice straight away.
Treatment options for haemorrhoids
If the cause of your bleeding is diagnosed as haemorrhoids, the good news is there are lots of great treatments available. Most will resolve by themselves within a couple of days, but you can use several methods to speed up recovery.
Small lifestyle changes can help to both clear up haemorrhoids and prevent them from recurring. Switching to a high-fibre diet will help to keep your stools softer for example. This in turn will make them much easier to pass.
You will also find staying active helps. This contributes towards weight management and it prevents constipation.
In some cases, you may need to undergo surgery to remove them. There are several surgical methods available and Mr Alan Woodward specialises in the Rafaello technique. He is the only surgeon in Wales to offer this effective technique, which is a very safe and successful new treatment.
Most of the time, blood in your stools isn’t anything to worry about. However, you should always seek medical advice to rule out anything serious. If it is linked to haemorrhoids, there are many treatment options available. Book a consultation at the Alan Woodward Surgical Group to find out more.