Category Archives: rectal lump

Excessive Smartphone Usage May Be Giving You Hemorrhoids | Minnesota

The average American spends over five hours per day scrolling through Instagram feeds, checking Twitter, answering emails and texts, and watching Netflix—all via smartphone devices and, more often than not, while sitting. Add in the extra layer of using these mobile devices during bathroom trips, and most of us have significantly increased our risk of developing hemorrhoids.

A 2015 survey found that 9 out of 10 people bring their mobile device with them to the bathroom, a habit that leads to unnecessary extra time on the toilet. While doctors recommend that you spend no more than 10 minutes at a time sitting on a toilet, being absorbed in the contents of your phone can easily extend that window to 15-20 minutes or longer.

This prolonged sitting time can then cause excess pressure on your rectal veins and increase your hemorrhoid risk. Additional straining may also cause existing hemorrhoids to engorge, swell and bleed. In general, your bowel movements should last somewhere between 3-10 minutes, as anything longer may indicate constipation.

Furthermore, another major concern of using mobile devices in the bathroom is the risk of fecal contamination. A 2017 study of high school students’ smartphone usage showed that these devices can cling to E.coli and other bacteria, potentially making mobile devices even dirtier than toilet seats. Gross.
 

Tips for Better Bathroom Habits

  • Only sit on the toilet for as long as you need to. If there isn’t an actual urge for a bowel movement, don’t force it.
  • Do NOT sit and strain for long periods of time. The more you strain, the more irritated those rectal veins will become!
  • Set a timer if you get distracted easily so that you’re aware of how long you’ve been sitting.
  • Always wash your hands before leaving the bathroom, and try to wipe down your smartphone!
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    The Potential Health Benefits of Elephant Foot Yam | Minnesota

    Alternative MedicineYes, you read that correctly—elephant foot yam is loaded with potential medicinal benefits and may even improve hemorrhoidal symptoms. This alternative medicine has long been used in Ayurveda, a traditional system of medicine rooted in the Indian subcontinent whose practices have recently been globalized. Used to treat numerous conditions such as sperm quality, liver and spleen disorders, and hemorrhages, elephant foot yam just may be the next big home remedy for treating hemorrhoids as well.

    The thickened, underground part of the yam’s stem, known as tubers, is often prescribed as medicine in Ayurveda to treat hemorrhoids, dysentery, asthma, vomiting and abdominal pain. While it is typically used as a blood purifier, tubers can also be made into a paste to externally treat arthritis pain.

    In treating hemorrhoid symptoms, elephant foot yam can be prepared as a medicine called “suran vataka,” recommended to be taken in small capsules (1-2 grams each) both morning and evening on an empty stomach. While the exact treatment results are unclear due to the yam’s alternative nature, this has long been a prescribed treatment method for patients in India suffering from hemorrhoid/bowel discomfort.
     

    Other Potential Health Benefits of Elephant Foot Yam

  • The cooling effect of the yam can be a cure for hypertension.
  • The yam may help reduce cholesterol levels.
  • It can serve as an anticoagulant (blood thinner) to improve blood flow.
  • Elephant foot yam may even help maintain hormonal balance in women by increasing estrogen levels and relieving them of pre-menstrual syndrome.
  • The presence of Vitamin C can help delay aging.
  • Elephant foot yam may also benefit patients who suffer from acute rheumatism.
  • Irregular bowel movements and constipation may be cured through consuming elephant foot yam.
  • It may help reduce muscle spasms.
  •  
    Please note that while elephant foot yam may help with hemorrhoid symptoms, anyone who suffers from hemorrhoid discomfort should see a doctor for a full evaluation. Home remedies certainly help with symptoms, but it’s always best to see a doctor for a complete, thorough treatment method.

     

    Comparing Anal Abscesses and Anal Fistulas | Minnesota

    Hemorrhoids, abscesses, fistulas, fissures, anal itching, rectal prolapse—with so many anorectal disorders out there, it’s hard to keep track of which is which. Two of these conditions, anal abscesses and anal fistulas, are closely linked to one another but can be easily distinguished via the guidelines below.
     

    Defining Each Disorder

    Anal Abscess – This is a pus-filled, infected cavity near the opening of the anus or deep in the rectum. Most abscesses result from infection of anal glands in the lining of the anal canal near the anus opening. When bacteria from the gut passes the anal sphincter barrier and into the surrounding tissue of the rectum, an abscess of varying severity and depth forms. When an abscess fails to fully heal, an anal fistula may form.

    Anal Fistula – As mentioned above, fistulas usually occur due to a previous anal abscess. A fistula is an inflamed tunnel under the skin, connecting the anal canal and the surface of the surrounding skin. The majority result from an anorectal infection, wherein the anal crypts are infected and cause pus-filled cysts to form near the anal canal.
     

    Symptoms

    Anal Abscess – The most common symptoms are pain around the anal area, swelling, redness, and fever. Rectal bleeding and urinary complications (difficult or painful urination) may also occur.

    Anal Fistula – In addition to most likely having a history of anal abscesses, patients may also experience skin irritation around the anus, a throbbing pain when sitting, anal discharge, swelling and redness, and fever.

     

    Causes

    Anal Abscess – This usually occurs from infection of anal glands in the lining of the anal canal near the anus opening. Other causes include an anal fissure and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

    Anal Fistula – As previously mentioned, fistulas typically result from an abscess that did not fully heal. They may also, though less frequently, be caused by Crohn’s disease, STDs, trauma, tuberculosis, cancer or diverticulitis.
     

    Treatments

    Anal Abscess – Surgical incision and drainage should be performed ASAP, as antibiotics are ineffective at this stage of the infection. Delaying surgery can result in tissue destruction, fibrosis (scar tissue formation), and impaired anal continence. Drainage involves making a small incision above the abscess as close to the anus as possible, then removing the gauze after 24 hours. Sitz baths and stool softeners can help with post-surgery discomfort.

    Anal Fistula – Surgery is generally needed to treat fistulas and involves cutting a small part of the anal sphincter muscle away. By doing so, the tunnel/fistula is opened up to form a trench that heals from the bottom outwards. After a few weeks, the trench ideally fills up with scar tissue and heals. Post-surgery discomfort is mild and can usually be addressed with painkillers.
     

    Recurrence Rates

    Anal Abscess – Nearly half of abscesses may recur, either in the form of a new abscess or as a frank fistula.

    Anal Fistula – Fistulas can also potentially recur, with recurrence rates dependent upon the particular surgical technique utilized.

     

    10 Reasons For Rectal Bleeding That Aren’t Hemorrhoids | Minnesota

    Bleeding from your rectum or anus is never a pleasant experience, and it can understandably cause immediate panic. Generally, bright red blood indicates bleeding in the lower rectum, while dark red blood indicates bleeding from deeper and further up in the body. While passing dark red blood is usually a sign of digestive bleeding and requires immediate attention, any amount of rectal bleeding should be taken seriously.

    While rectal bleeding can be caused by pesky hemorrhoids, there are a number of other potential causes ranging from fistulas and fissures to more serious cases of colon/bowel cancer.
     
    1. Anal Fistula
    An anal fistula is an inflammatory tunnel under the skin connecting the anal canal and the surface of the surrounding skin. Most fistulas occur from an anorectal infection, where the anal crypts are infected and cysts containing pus form near the anal canal. Fistulas are often misdiagnosed as hemorrhoids, as symptoms can be similar, including drainage from the anus, itchiness and pain during bowel movements. They can be treated with antibiotics, pain meds and a fistulotomy.

    2. Anal Fissure
    An anal fissure is a small rip or tear in the lining of the anal cana typically caused by trauma to the inner lining of the anus via a bowel movement or stretching of the anal canal. They can be painful, but fissures often heal within a few weeks through increasing fiber/fluid intake to keep stool soft and help ease bowel movements.

    3. Colon Cancer
    As scary as it may sound, rectal bleeding is a dangerous sign of colon cancer and must be taken very seriously. Symptoms of colorectal cancer include abdominal pain, a change in bowel habits, an anal or rectal lump, and bleeding during bowel movements. Click here to read our post on the differences between rectal cancer and hemorrhoids.

    4. Gastroenteritis
    Gastroenteritis, otherwise known as the stomach flu, is a common bacterial infection that causes diarrhea, fever and vomiting. Due to inflammation in the stomach and colon, the bowel becomes more sensitive during the illness and may cause bloody stools. While the process is uncomfortable, gastroenteritis normally clears up after a few days of rest and hydration.

    5. Diverticulosis
    Diverticulosis is a chronic bowel condition that causes small bulges or pockets to develop in the lining of the intestine/digestive tract. If these bulges become inflamed or infected, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and bloody stools can occur. More common in people over 40, diverticulosis can be treated using diet modifications, antibiotics and, if needed, surgery.

    6. Rectal Prolapse
    Believe it or not, a bit of your intestine can actually slip outside of your body. A rectal prolapse occurs when part of the large intestine slips outside the anus, which can happen during a bowel movement. This in turn causes pain and bright red blood in the stool, as well as difficulty in controlling your bowel movements. A prolapse usually requires surgical treatment, so call your doctor right away.

    7. Polyps
    Polyps are non-cancerous growths that can develop along the lining of your bowel. They’re pretty common and don’t usually manifest symptoms. In more severe cases, they can cause diarrhea, constipation, mucus in the stool and bloody stools. While most polyps do not escalate into cancer, there is still risk of cancer development. Be sure to call your doctor for a full examination.

    8. Internal Bleeding
    As mentioned earlier, darker colored blood can be a sign of internal bleeding in your digestive system. It can also be a sign of cancer, stomach ulcers or severe gastrointestinal disease. If you see dark red blood in your stool call your doctor ASAP.

    9. Colitis
    Colitis is a chronic inflammation of the innermost lining of the large intestine and rectum. Small ulcers develop in the lining of the bowel, which then bleed and produce pus. This causes recurring diarrhea, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, and the frequent urge to pass stools. Management of colitis conditions can include antibiotics, medications and surgery.

    10. Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI)
    Sexually transmitted infections (STI) can result from unprotected anal sex and cause inflammation of the lining of the anus, which can lead to bleeding and pus. Treatment includes antibiotics and antiviral/antifungal medications.

     

    Hemorrhoids vs. Rectal Cancer: How to Tell the Difference | Minnesota

    Because the symptoms of hemorrhoids and early-stage rectal/colon cancer are very similar, people often confuse and, at times, misdiagnose the two conditions. Since the treatment method for each condition is vastly different, it’s important to know how to differentiate hemorrhoids from rectal cancer and proceed with the appropriate treatment options.

    Rectal Cancer

    The most obvious and noticeable symptom of rectal cancer is a malignant tumor (cancerous tumor that spreads) that forms in the tissues of the rectum. Additional rectal cancer symptoms can include:

  • Stools that are not round in shape
  • Bloody stools
  • A change in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation)
  • Anal tenesmus (the feeling of urgently and constantly needing to pass stools due to rectal inflammation)
  • Unexplained weight loss (typically later symptom)
  • Unexplained fatigue (typically later symptom)
  • Pelvic or lower abdominal pain (typically later symptom)
  • The risk of rectal cancer increases as you age, so the condition is more common in individuals over 50, although it can also manifest in younger people. Those with either a personal or family history of colorectal polyps, colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are at a higher risk.

    If you have any of above symptoms, you’ll need to still see a doctor for a digital rectal exam, colonoscopy and full work-up.
     

    Hemorrhoids

    Hemorrhoids are swollen, bulging blood vessels in the walls of the anus and lower rectum. When the tissues supporting the vessels become inflamed and stretch, the vessels expand and cause its walls to thin. This often leads to bleeding. If the intense stretching and internal pressure continue, these already weakened vessels ultimately protrude from the anus. Patients with hemorrhoids can suffer from internal hemorrhoids, external hemorrhoids, or both.

    Internal hemorrhoids are small or large hemorrhoids that develop inside the rectum and do not protrude outside the anus. They may bleed but are normally painless.

    External hemorrhoids are small or large hemorrhoids that protrude from the anus and bleed. Some external hemorrhoids retract back into the anal sphincter after a period of time, while larger, more severe ones require manual pushing to force them back into the interior of the anus. Hemorrhoids can exit the body via coughing, sneezing, laughing or standing for long periods of time. Prolapsed hemorrhoids can produce external anal mucus and itching around the anus.

    Symptoms of hemorrhoids include:

  • Discomfort, itching or pain around your anus
  • Bloody stools or seeing blood on the toilet paper when wiping
  • Moist, pink bumps around the edge of the anus, or bulging out from the anus
  • Severe or abnormal pain (advanced hemorrhoids)
  • Discomfort when sitting and laying down (advanced hemorrhoids)
  • Unlike rectal cancer, hemorrhoids are typically caused by changeable lifestyle habits such as lack of movement and exercise (lack of blood circulation), sedentary work, and straining from constipation, as well as pregnancy.

    If you experience any of the above rectal cancer or hemorrhoid symptoms, see a doctor immediately. For more on rectal examinations, check out our blog post about what to expect from a standard rectal exam.

     

    Four Cardinal Symptoms of Hemorrhoids | Minnesota

    Although hemorrhoidal symptoms and complaints are common and typically not a serious concern, all patients should be examined for signs of possible cancer and other associated diseases. There are four cardinal symptoms of hemorrhoids, including rectal pain, bleeding, anal itching, and rectal mass or lump.

    Anal Itching
    Anal itching is the most common complaint in the hemorrhoid patients. It often comes and goes. The initial relief of the itching does not necessarily mean the problem goes away. Continuous scratching or excessive cleaning of the anal area may further harm the sensitive tissues and worsen symptoms. In addition, the area can be highly sensitive to perfumes, soaps, fabrics, dietary intake and superficial trauma. When chronic itching occurs, the perianal area becomes white with fine fissures.

    Treatments for anal itching include taking antihistamine as a sedative prior to sleeping to prevent the patient from unconsciously scratching, or using a topical corticosteroid to alleviate the itching. Underlying hemorrhoids and other rectal diseases must be considered and treated when diagnosing and treating anal itching.

    Anal pain
    Anal pain is a common sign of hemorrhoids. The patients with hemorrhodis often complain the aching pain, irritating pain, and spasmodic pain. If the hemorrhoid patient also has anal fissure, sharp pain may occur during intense, forced bowel movements that are often accompanied by rectal bleeding. Immediate onsets of intense pain accompanied by a palpable mass are usually a result of an external thrombosed hemorrhoid, which may last a few days to a couple of weeks. Internal hemorrhoids, however, are not very painful due to being located above the dentate line of the rectum.

    Proctalgia fugax is a more serious anal pain condition that involves short spasms of intense pain at night. Hemorrhoids could be its trigger or cause.

    Rectal Lump
    A palpable anal lumps can be caused by a variety of conditions including anal warts, hemorrhoids, polyps, fissures, or cancer.

    Hemorrhoids are probably the most common reason for having a rectal lump. It can be caused by internal hemorrhoids, but more commonly by external hemorrhoids. If a rectal lump is related to internal hemorrhoids, it usually gets bigger and more prolapsed right after the bowel movement; it could be spontaneously reduced in the early stage of internal hemorrhoids. But it could be non-reducible in the late stage of hemorrhoids.

    The thrombosed external hemorrhoids often cause very painful, bluish anal lumps when the hemorrhoidal veins rupture and the blood clots develop.

    Rectal bleeding
    Rectal bleeding can be caused by hemorrhoids and other conditions, but even the slightest amount of bleeding should be taken seriously. Common causes of bleeding are internal hemorrhoids, ruptured thrombosed external hemorrhoids, fissures, diverticulosis, colon cancer, colitis, polyps and angiodysplasias. Patients of older age or with significant family history of bowel disease or cancer should consider further examination. In addition, patients who were previously treated for rectal bleeding but continued to experience bleeding must be further examined.

    The source of rectal bleeding is determined by history, physical examination and blood tests, assisted with anoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, radionuclide scans, and angiograms.

    The Management of Anal Tags | Minneapolis & St Paul

    Anal tagHave you been using too much toilet paper because of pesky anal tags? Hemorrhoidal skin tags are flaps of skin or flesh found around the anus. They often form as a result of an existing hemorrhoid.

    Anal tags are the shapeless lumps and flaps of skin and tissue found at the anal verge. They’re quite common and usually come with other anorectal problems, such as hemorrhoids.

    Anal skin tags often occur if an individual heals the thrombosed external hemorrhoids at home without surgery, the thrombosed hemorrhoids may leave behind skin tags. Anal sentinel tags may also form because of non-hemorrhoid causes, such as anal fissure, surgery, or infection, etc.

    Despite the fact that people often confuse them with cancerous growths, skin tags are benign and present no serious health concerns.

    Hemorrhoidal skin tags often don’t cause significant rectal symptoms, but they often affect the cleansing after bowel movement. If feces become trapped beneath the skin tags, it can cause irritation and lead to itching and further inflammation. Skin tags can also cause pain when it flairs up or if there’s another underlying rectal problem.

    Patients suffering discomfort or itching due to hemorrhoidal skin tags can treat the condition with the following:

    • Thorough cleaning of the affected area after bowel movement. May use gentle cleansers, such as witch hazel or aloe vera extract.
    • Do a Sitz bath with warm water.
    • May use OTC hemorrhoid cream to reduce irritation and swelling.
    • If the skin tags frequently cause symptoms, individuals may consider having them removed surgically.
    • Most patients who have anal tags often have hemorrhoids, too, they should consider complete care by treating internal hemorrhoids before removal of anal tags or at the same time.

    Excision of anal tags:
    Anal tags can easily be removed in the office using local anesthetic. A radiofrequency device is used to get rid of skin tabs and resurface the anal area to acquire a good cosmetic result. The procedure takes less than 10 minutes and patients are safe to drive immediately afterwards. There may be mild postoperative pain and discomfort with bowel movement in the first week. The patients are typically able to go back to work next day although the whole healing process may take a few weeks. If the patient needs a hemorrhoidectomy, anal tags can be removed together as part of hemorrhoidectomy. If the anal tag is extensive, two stages of surgery may be necessary to avoid anal stenosis.

    Rectal Bumps : Hemorrhoids or Something else? | Minnesota

    A rectal lump is a growth in the anal canal or rectal area. Rectal lumps vary in size and the degree to which they produce symptoms. Depending on the underlying cause, a rectal lump may or may not cause any pain. A palpable mass in the anal area may or may not indicate cancer or hemorrhoids. Lumps can be caused by a variety of conditions including anal warts, hemorrhoids, polyps, fissures, or cancer.

    Hemorrhoids are probably the most common reason for having a rectal lump. It can be caused by prolapsed internal hemorrhoids, but more commonly by external hemorrhoids. If a rectal lump is related to internal hemorrhoids, it usually gets bigger and more prolapsed right after the bowel movement; it could be spontaneously reduced in the early stage of internal hemorrhoids. But it could be non-reducible in the late stage of hemorrhoids. It may be associated with other symptoms such as bleeding, itch or pain. The thrombosed external hemorrhoids are usually very painful if the varicose veins rupture and the blood clots develop.

    Anal warts are caused by human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV infection is considered to be sexually transmitted diseases. Left untreated, anal warts can spread and increase the risk of cancer in the anorectal region.

    Anal Fissure is a small cut or split in the anal lining often caused by a painful, hard bowel movement. Fissures are typically located anterior or posterior to the anus. Anal fissure is often associated with a lump called sentinel pile, accompanied by pain and bleeding.

    Anal polyps are the growth in the anal canal that must be removed for the biopsy. Further examination with colonoscopy is required for polyps confirmed to be adenomatous in order to check for proximal lesions in the rectum and colon.

    Anal cancer occurs in the anal canal, it is account for 2% of cancer in the gastrointestinal tract. An external or internal mass may be palpable. Anal or rectal cancer generally does not produce any pain; some lesions are so soft that they are missed on palpation. Anal cancer can take several forms including ulcers, polyps or verrucous growths.

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