It's Time To See The Doctor
Never assume that bleeding when you have a bowel movement is the result of hemorrhoids. Other digestive diseases, including colon cancer, can lead to bleeding in your rectal area. Polyps, which can become cancerous if not removed, are another possible cause.
Although you may be shocked by the sight of your own blood after wiping your bottom, it's important to pay attention to everything you see there. During an examination, your doctor will ask you several questions to try to gauge whether you have bleeding hemorrhoids or something more serious.
For example, your doctor will probably ask whether the blood you saw was bright red or a darker red. The darker color may indicate a more serious problem needing immediate attention, so don't put off seeing the doctor.
When It's Time To Call The Doctor
Here are some other things that indicate it's time to call the doctor:
- If you have experienced a clear change in your bowel habits - for example, you've gone from having a daily bowel movement to a weekly bowel movement
- If the appearance of your stool has changed significantly. Stool that is black or mixed with blood can indicate that you have a more serious problem.
- If you have blood in your stool, it's imperative that you see your doctor immediately.
- If you have experienced significant weight loss (even though you weren't on a diet) in addition to seeing hemorrhoids
- If you have abdominal pain that accompanies hemorrhoids
- If your hemorrhoids don't improve after treating them at home
- If you're in frequent pain
If you experience any of these conditions, consult your doctor. If you're bleeding excessively from your hemorrhoids, get to the doctor's office immediately. Chronic bleeding from hemorrhoids can lead to anemia and other complications, so don't ignore this.
Get Regular Checkups For Your Colon Health
Make it a point to get regular checkups and talk to your doctor about the health of your colon. Doctors recommend having a colonoscopy every 10 years after age 50. African Americans have a higher risk for colon cancer and are advised to begin having colonoscopies after age 45. If you have a family history of disorders of the colon, including colon cancer, you should begin after age 40.
During this outpatient procedure, the doctor can see all of your digestive tract through a tiny lighted scope inserted for that purpose. This is one of the best ways to spot any problems that could develop into a cancer of the digestive system.
Because talking about hemorrhoids can be embarrassing, many people avoid going to the doctor even when they see blood on their toilet paper. Some people are afraid they'll receive bad news from the doctor, so they just decide not to go. The good news is that if you have a serious condition, such as colon cancer, it has a high cure success rate when treated early. So if you think it's serious, that's even more reason to schedule your appointment as soon as you can.
In most cases, bleeding hemorrhoids are simply bleeding hemorrhoids. But don't assume anything. Talk to the expert, identify what you actually have, and then treat it.
How To Prepare For Your Doctor's AppointmentYou can help your doctor by being prepared with as much information as possible. Your doctor will have many questions, and you'll get the most out of your visit if you're prepared with the answers. Typical questions your doctor might ask:
- What are your symptoms?
- When did they start?
- How often do you typically have a bowel movement? Are your stools hard?
- Do you have any bleeding when you have a bowel movement?
- Have you seen any blood in your stool?
- Do you have problems with constipation? How often?
- Describe your diet. Do you eat fruits and vegetables? How often? How much fiber do you eat?
- Do you take fiber supplements?
- Are you on any medications?
- Do you take any vitamins?
- Has anyone in your family ever had hemorrhoids, polyps, or cancer of the colon, rectum, or anus?
- Have you ever had a colonoscopy? When was your last one?
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