The physicians at the Good Samaritan Women’s Center for Specialized Care regularly treat these colorectal conditions:
- Chronic constipation
- Chronic diarrhea
- Inability to control gas or stool
- Inflamed colon
If you pass hard, dry stools less than three times a week, you likely are constipated. The most common symptoms are:
- The need to strain during a bowel movement
- Feeling bloated or sluggish
- Pain or discomfort during a bowel movement
Sometimes a change in diet or exercise will take care of the problem. When constipation causes any of the following, it is wise to seek medical advice:
- Intense abdominal pain
- Blood in your stool
- Constipation that alternates with diarrhea
- Rectal pain
- Thin, pencil-like stools
- Unexplained weight loss
When you pass loose, watery stools several times a day, you have diarrhea. When diarrhea lasts only a few days, then goes away on its own, it is called “acute.” But when diarrhea persists it is considered "chronic" and is the sign of a more serious problem.
When diarrhea causes any of the following, it is wise to contact your doctor:
- Severe pain in the abdomen or rectum
- Fever of 102 degrees or higher
- Blood in your stool or black, tarry stools
- Signs of dehydration (dry mouth, extreme thirst, decreased urine, lack of sweating, muscle weakness, headache, light headedness)
Your doctor can perform various tests to find the cause of your chronic diarrhea and an appropriate treatment.
In this condition the veins around your anus or lower rectum are swollen and inflamed. Hemorrhoids may be inside your anus or under the skin just outside your anus. They often are a result of straining during a bowel movement. They also can result from pregnancy, aging, chronic constipation or diarrhea, or anal intercourse.
The most common symptom of internal hemorrhoids is bright red blood covering the stool, on toilet paper or in the toilet bowl. Sometimes internal hemorrhoids protrude through the anus and become irritated and painful.
External hemorrhoids can cause painful swelling or a hard lump around the anus.
Your doctor has the ability to shrink and destroy your hemorrhoids. She also can advise you on ways to prevent new hemorrhoids from developing.
Inability to Control Gas or Stool
When stool leaks from your rectum, you have fecal incontinence. The condition ranges from:
- Occasional leakage of stool while passing gas
- Complete loss of bowel control
Fecal incontinence is caused when muscles or nerves in or near your rectum are damaged. Tests are available to measure the pressure in your rectum and determine if nerves are damaged. With proper treatment, your bowel control can be improved and in some cases fully restored.
An inflamed colon can occur if you take or have recently taken antibiotics. The condition can be very painful, and can even become life threatening.
The most common symptom of an inflamed colon is bloody diarrhea. Other symptoms include:
- Abdominal cramps and pain
- Urgent need to have a bowel movement
- Pus or mucus in the stool
- Dehydration (dry mouth, extreme thirst, decreased urine, lack of sweating, muscle weakness, headache, light headedness)
Your doctor can perform tests to determine if you have an inflamed colon or another medical condition. Various medications are available to treat an inflamed colon. Sometimes symptoms reoccur and a different treatment is needed.