If you notice some blood on the toilet paper after you use the restroom, it can be alarming. Any kind of blood in the stool can be disconcerting. There are many different causes for blood in the stool—some harmless and some are reason for concern. Blood in the stool can mean that you have internal hemorrhoids. External hemorrhoids cause a bump or a protrusion and are noticeable. Internal hemorrhoids, on the other hand, are painless and invisible. Although it is likely that you have an internal hemorrhoid, do not simply assume that you can diagnose yourself. Sometimes blood in the stool can indicate another condition.
Often, rectal bleeding or a small amount of blood in the stool can be a result of an anal fissure, or a small tear in the anus. This can happen when you have a large bowel movement or when there is too much tension in the anal sphincter. You will usually experience pain for a few hours after you have passed the stool and then the pain goes away.
In rare cases, you may have an anal fistula. This happens when a tiny passage from the anal canal leads to a small hole in the skin that is close to the anal opening. Trace amounts of fluids can pass through the hole like mucus or blood. This condition can also make you feel itchy and irritated.
Pain in the rectum, bloody stool or stool streaked with blood can also be warning signs for colon cancer. Pain can be a result of a colon polyp obstructing the colon as fecal matter attempts to pass through. Cancerous tissue bleeds more than normal tissue so cancerous tissue in the colon could be the source of rectal bleeding.
If you have not been to a doctor to have your rectal bleeding diagnosed, make an appointment immediately instead of playing doctor yourself. Symptoms, if left untreated, can lead to more serious problems later on. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so be proactive about your health.