Anal and Rectal Problems

Anal and rectal problems are handled by the GI Division at Premier Medical Group. Anorectal symptoms and complaints are common and may be caused by a variety of conditions. Patients are often embarrassed to discuss anal and rectal problems, however, it’s important to see your physician for proper diagnosis. Rectal bleeding and/or pain could be a sign of something more serious.

Types of anorectal problems

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Rectal itching (pruritus)

Irritation of the skin at the exit of the rectum, known as the anus, causing the urge to scratch. The intensity of anal itching can increase from moisture, pressure, and rubbing caused by clothing and sitting. While itching is not usually a sign of a serious disease, it can be uncomfortable and annoying. The skin around the anal area may look red from the itching and scratching. Other common causes are:

  • Poor or overzealous cleaning of the rectal area
  • Scented toilet paper, soaps or ointments causing dry skin
  • Infections of the anal area or rectum such as Psoriasis, yeast infections, pinworm, scabies, parasites, or genital warts
  • Chronic leakage of stool
  • Skin tags (abnormal local growth of anal skin)
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Anal fissures and fistulas
  • Some foods can cause itching, such as tomatoes, chocolate, coffee, tea, spicy foods, and large amounts of vitamin C or alcoholic beverages
  • Tight-fitting clothing

Rectal pain

The most common causes for rectal pain are constipation, diarrhea, and anal itching and scratching. It may be intermittent or acute, but it generally clears up on its own. Other common causes are:

Rectal bleeding

At some point in their lives, many people experience minor rectal bleeding. It can be bright red or pink. It may appear in the toilet bowl or on the toilet tissue. This can occur as a result of a small hemorrhoid, diarrhea, or constipation, but it should never be ignored. Never assume that rectal bleeding is normal. It could be a sign of something more serious and it needs to be evaluated by your physician and or gastroenterologist. Other common causes are:

  • Hemorrhoids (internal and external): are swollen veins in the anal area. Constipation and diarrhea can cause the hemorrhoids to become swollen, hard, and sometimes bleed.
  • Anal fistula appears after an old anal abscess has drained. It can ooze blood or pus for prolonged periods. The most common causes of anal fistula are Crohn’s disease and acute or recurrent anal abscess. Determining the cause of the fistula formation is the most important factor to be considered.
  • Proctitis is an inflammation of the lining of the rectum.
  • Rectal ulcers generally occur after long periods of constipation and straining.
  • Anal fissures are described as a split or tear in the lining of the anal canal. This can happen when a large hard stool passes and stretches the opening and tears the tissue. They can cause bright red anal bleeding and periodic pain when moving one’s bowels. They may be chronic or acute.
  • Pancreatitis symptoms can sometimes present in these cases, but rare.
  • Colon or anal cancer can cause rectal bleeding.

Polyps

One of the most common conditions affecting the rectum and colon are polyps, which are described as an extra piece of tissue that grows inside your body. Most polyps are not dangerous nor do they cause symptoms. Polyps can affect anyone, but they are more common in people 50 and over, or people who have a family history of colon cancer or polyps. They are generally found during a colonoscopy.

Bowel incontinence

Also referred to as fecal incontinence. Bowel incontinence is the inability to control your bowels; when you feel the urge to have a bowel movement but can’t make it the bathroom. It can affect anyone, but more typically it affects older adults.

Proctitis

An inflammation of the lining of the rectum that causes discomfort, bleeding, and occasionally a discharge of mucous or pus. The most common causes of proctitis include ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s Disease, antibiotics, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), non-STD infections, radiation therapy, anorectal trauma, and ulcerative colitis.