People with ulcerative colitis (UC) may find that they develop hemorrhoids due to UC symptoms like frequent bowel movements and straining to go to the bathroom.
Many people associate UC with symptoms like abdominal pain and unusual bowel movements, and they also may experience hemorrhoids.
This article will offer more detail on how likely it is that people with UC may experience hemorrhoids, how that relates to frequent bowel movements, and what you can do to manage this complication if you experience it.
It can be confusing for people with UC to know if they have hemorrhoids, because these two conditions have symptoms that overlap.
For example, people may experience rectal bleeding and bloody stools during a UC flare-up. But irritated hemorrhoids can also cause bleeding in the rectal area.
It’s important for individuals with UC to keep an eye out for hemorrhoids because some UC symptoms are associated with causing hemorrhoids.
One common UC symptom is abnormal bowel movements, which include frequent diarrhea or constipation. This can put pressure on the anal area, increasing the chance of hemorrhoids.
Additionally, many individuals with UC find themselves straining on the toilet because they feel they have not fully emptied their bowels. This can increase their risk of developing hemorrhoids, too.
Ulcerative proctitis is a term used to describe UC cases where the inflammation is only inside the rectum.
Ulcerative proctitis can cause individuals to have blood in their stool. They may also experience sensations of urgency around bowel movements and a feeling of not being fully empty after releasing their bowels.
Diarrhea is a common symptom of ulcerative proctitis, but constipation may also occur.
Rectal inflammation due to UC may come and go with flare-ups. When they linger or occur frequently, it can result in increased irritation to the anal and rectal area. This can lead to hemorrhoids.
While UC and hemorrhoids both impact portions of the digestive tract, they are separate conditions.
UC is a form of IBD that occurs when the colon, rectum, or both become inflamed. This inflammation produces tiny sores called ulcers in the lining of the digestive tract. Some IBD symptoms can extend beyond the digestive tract.
On the other hand, hemorrhoids (sometimes called piles) are swollen veins around the anus and lower part of the rectum. Hemorrhoids may be internal or external, but unlike UC, hemorrhoids are not a type of inflammatory bowel disease and are only limited to the rectal area.
Hemorrhoids can be caused by:
- frequent constipation or diarrhea
- straining during bowel movements
- a low fiber diet
- frequently lifting heavy objects
- weakened tissues in the anus and rectum from aging or pregnancy
Although the exact cause is unknown, UC may be due to an overactive immune system and may have a genetic component. UC flare-ups may be due to stress and dietary triggers.
Hemorrhoids may be treated with over-the-counter creams and suppositories. Sitz baths and steroid enemas may also relieve discomfort due to hemorrhoids. If hemorrhoids are due to constipation, drinking more water, exercising, and increasing the fiber in your diet may also help.
While severe hemorrhoids can sometimes be treated with surgery, this may not be the best option for people with UC since the risk of postoperative complications
If you’re diagnosed with UC, you might consider talking with a rheumatologist and a gastroenterologist to determine a UC treatment plan. This plan will be individually designed to reduce your flare-ups and may include medications, dietary changes, and an exercise plan.
Mild to moderate UC flare-ups can often be treated at home, but more severe UC flare-ups may require a hospital stay for IV fluids and medications.
Talking with your doctors about your symptoms and making adjustments to your treatment plan can help to prevent more severe symptoms from occurring.
People can experience hemorrhoids whether or not they have UC. Especially if they develop ulcerative proctitis, individuals with UC may find that they have hemorrhoids.
If you have UC, it’s important to talk with your doctor about a treatment plan to help keep your symptoms under control and reduce the risk of complications like hemorrhoids.
If you develop hemorrhoids that are uncomfortable or frequent, you should also discuss a treatment plan for these with your doctor.