Most symptoms of hemorrhoids are identical to those of many other diseases. Pain, bleeding, and anal discomfort may or may not be caused by hemorrhoids. It is not difficult to confuse symptoms for such diseases like bowel diseases, colorectal cancers, and sexually transmitted diseases with those of hemorrhoids.
You should always consult your doctor about any sign or symptom which you think you have. Early diagnosis is extremely important. Your doctor can arrange tests and examinations, and even a complete analysis and a medical examination if they believe they may be required, to confirm your ailment. That avoids worry and unnecessary expense or surgery for you.
You are then better prepared to deal with whatever is affecting you. Proper diagnosis and understanding of the ailment is essential for correct medical care and treatment.
Various intestinal ailments cause uncontrollable anal leakage. Similarly, changes in feces characteristics like tar-like stool, pencil-like and narrow stools, and blood on the stool are common to various ailments like colitis or intestinal diseases. Changes in bowel movements are a common feature of numerous ailments.
Some of the medical conditions which have symptoms that sometimes may overlap with those of hemorrhoids include inflammatory bowel diseases, including:
- Anorectal conditions
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Polyps and cancers
- Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Common inflammatory bowel diseases include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Both these diseases cause inflammation of the digestive tissue. Crohn’s disease causes inflammation of the small intestine and colon. It causes blockage of the intestines and digestive tract. This is expected to result in infection and fissures, abscesses, and skin tags. These cause similar symptoms as hemorrhoids, like blood in the stool, pain, itching in the anal region, and other similar symptoms. They can be readily mistaken for hemorrhoidal symptoms.
Ulcerative colitis causes serious inflammation of the surface of the colon. This causes bleeding and leads to blood in the stool. Diarrhea is a frequent symptom of ulcerative colitis. This again could cause symptoms similar to hemorrhoids.
Abscesses, fissures, and fistulas are common anorectal conditions with symptoms similar to hemorrhoids. An abscess is a set of pus due to bacteria. Trapped fecal materials within the glands of the sphincter muscle of the anal canal can cause swelling and a painful bulge develops. This is just an anorectal abscess. It is essential to locate such abscesses and drain them. A skin tear of the anal canal is a fissure. A deep fissure can even expose the sphincter muscle. Regular contraction of the anal muscles worsens fissures. Fissures develop due to forcible expulsion of hard stools or due to anal surgery.
Frequent symptoms of fissures include blood in the stool, a burning sensation before and after bowel movements, pain, and swollen tissue. Skin tags are the same as hemorrhoidal skin tags. Again, simple self-care treatments like warm baths and analgesic creams can bring temporary relief for hemorrhoids. Although fissures are normally self-healing, surgery could become indispensable in specific cases.
Untreated and undrained abscesses develop into fistulas. The infection in the abscess spreads through the internal tissue into a troublesome external opening. Pus comes out of these fistula openings. This condition requires immediate surgery. The symptoms are very similar to hemorrhoids.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Most sexually transmitted diseases like Chlamydia, Anal Warts, Syphilis, Gonorrhea, and Herpes, have hemorrhoid-like symptoms. Chlamydia causes bleeding, rectal infection, pain, and anal discharge. Anal warts cause bleeding, itching, fleshy growth in the anal canal or near the anus, pain, and discharge.
A syphilis infection starts with an ulcer. If the infection is located in the anal canal, pain can cause symptoms similar to hemorrhoids. Gonorrhea causes extensive pain and discharge. Herpes causes severe pain and itching in the genitals, bleeding, blisters, and the development of anal sores.
Polyps and Cancer
Polyps are harmless growths in the intestinal linings and rectum. However, these develop into colorectal cancers. Polyps are discovered through colonoscopies and manual medical examinations. Normally polyps depict multiple growths. Some polyps can cause mucus discharge, rectal bleeding, pain, and changes in bowel habits. Removal of polyps is essential, as it is not possible to analyze which of these could develop to be cancerous.
Colorectal cancer is a very common cancer and is the second-most important type of cancer leading to death. Most colorectal cancers develop from polyps.
Common symptoms of colorectal cancer include rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, pain in the rectum, regular changes in bowel habits, false defecating urges, weakness, weight loss, anal opening protrusions, an ulcer near the anus, and regular bouts of diarrhea and constipation. These are very similar to hemorrhoid symptoms. It is possible to rectify colorectal cancer symptoms by eating a fiber-rich diet. This is again similar to rectification of hemorrhoidal symptoms. Therefore differentiating between colorectal cancer and hemorrhoidal symptoms can be difficult as most symptoms can be similar.