Many patients are referred to me by their General Practitioner because they have symptoms that suggest they require surgical treatment.
Abdominal pain takes a variety of forms, ranging from a mild ache to severe pain requiring emergency admission to hospital. Pain may is often described as colic, a spasm of discomfort which resolves on its own only to return in a cyclical manner. This is usually caused by a blockage and may result from a gallstone, kidney stone, early appendicitis or even a blockage of the bowel.
Alteration in bowel habit
One of the most important symptoms of abdominal disease is noticing a change in how ones bowels work. There is no such a thing as a “normal” bowel habit and everyone is different. Some people go to the toilet at the same time every day like clockwork, whilst others vary from going several times a day to those who go for long periods and do not open their bowels for days at a time. As long as this is the pattern for you and has been consistent over a long period of time there is probably nothing to be concerned about, however, if the way in which you open your bowel changes without reason you should consult your doctor.
Pain arising from the anus or the surrounding area is an embarrassing condition and this prevents many people from going to see their doctors. There are a number of common causes of anal pain most of which can be treated easily. People often assume anal pain is caused by haemorrhoids (piles), however unless they prolapse from the anal canal haemorrhoids are rarely painful and tend only to cause bleeding. More common causes of anal pain are fissures (splits in the anal skin), abscesses, peri-anal haematoma or occasionally a sudden but short lived shooting pain known as proctaglia fugax. Another common condition causing anal pain is Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel condition that often leads to ulcers and infection of the anus.
Seeing blood after you have opened your bowels is a worrying sign and should encourage you to visit your doctor for their opinion without delay. Happily most causes of bleeding from the “back passage” are nothing to worry about and can be easily treated. Commonly bright red blood found on the toilet paper or in the toilet bowl is caused by haemorrhoids (piles). Other condition affecting the anal canal may also cause this pattern of bleeding including anal fissures which are commonly associated with a painful tearing sensation and inflammation of the lower rectum (proctitis) which is often associated with a need to open ones bowels urgently. Rectal bleeding is also seen from diverticular disease, radiation damage to the bowel and inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, but in these cases bleeding tends to be of a larger volume and is often associated with diarrhoea.