Q: I’ve been noticing a little blood on the toilet paper after a bowel movement, which I’m pretty sure is just due to mild hemorrhoids, but I don’t have any pain or itching. Is this something I can treat on my own, or should I see my doctor?
A: Anyone who experiences rectal bleeding at any age needs to see a doctor. Though hemorrhoids are the most common cause of rectal bleeding, other disorders, such as colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and diverticular disease, can also cause rectal bleeding without other symptoms. You should be aware that mistakenly attributing rectal bleeding to hemorrhoids is the most common missed opportunity to establish a cancer diagnosis.
Rectal bleeding should be evaluated by a health care professional who will do a complete history, physical examination, and internal inspection of the rectum to see if hemorrhoids are the cause of rectal bleeding and to determine if further evaluation, such as a colonoscopy, is warranted.
Mild hemorrhoids can usually be treated with lifestyle changes—for example, by increasing fiber in the diet and taking warm baths.
Also see Help for Hemorrhoids.