Q: I'm having bleeding with my bowel movements. Could it be hemorrhoids?
A: Hemorrhoids are blood-filled cushions in the anus that help maintain continence and are a common cause of bleeding from the anus. However, any bleeding is a good reason to visit your doctor. There are other possible causes, and some are serious. Your doctor will ask questions about quantity and quality of bleeding, any pain you're experiencing in the area, itching or new lumps or bumps. An examination can usually diagnose the cause of the bleeding. Depending on your age, you also may need a colonoscopy. Initial treatment, which also helps with other conditions, consists of increasing fiber in the diet or taking fiber supplements to have soft, formed stools. A variety of medications also may be used to try to shrink the hemorrhoids. Next, office therapies such as "banding" the hemorrhoid or injecting it might be tried. Finally, surgery is an option and the most effective way to treat hemorrhoidal bleeding. Recently developed medications significantly reduce postoperative pain, and some patients are candidates for surgical options which cause almost no postoperative pain. Ask your colorectal surgeon for more details.
- Dr. Eric Nelson, University, Surgical Associates; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society
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