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Rectal Problems (cont.)

IN THIS ARTICLE

Prevention

To prevent rectal problems:

  • Use white, unscented toilet paper.
  • Do not use scented soaps, such as Irish Spring and Coast, which can irritate skin.
  • Practice good hygiene. Gently wipe the area with toilet paper after each bowel movement. If irritation starts, use water-soaked cotton balls to clean the area and then pat the area dry with dry cotton balls. Premoistened pads, such as Tucks or "baby wipes," may be less irritating.
  • Do not sit on the toilet for long periods of time.
  • Eat a high-fiber diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables and bran cereal every day.
  • Avoid foods that can cause rectal problems. Examples of such foods include:
    • Regular or diet cola.
    • Coffee.
    • Beer and other alcoholic beverages.
    • Dairy products.
    • Any other items that you know cause you to have gas or indigestion.
  • Avoid constipation. For more information, see the topic Constipation, Age 11 and Younger or Constipation, Age 12 and Older.
  • Avoid diarrhea. For more information, see the topic Diarrhea, Age 11 and Younger or Diarrhea, Age 12 and Older.

Preparing For Your Appointment

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared to answer the following questions:

  • Is your main problem rectal pain, itching, or bleeding?
  • Are your symptoms:
    • Present all the time, or do they come and go?
    • Present only with bowel movements?
    • Steady?
    • Getting worse?
  • How long have you had this problem? Did it come on suddenly or gradually?
  • Have you ever been treated for a similar problem? If so, what was the treatment? Did it help?
  • What home treatments have you tried for your current problem? Have they helped?
  • Have you had leaking of mucus or stool from your rectum?
  • Have you noticed a change in the color, consistency, size, or frequency of your stool?
  • Do you have a history of hemorrhoids or rectal disease?
  • Do you have a family history of colon cancer, ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, or Crohn's disease?
  • If you have had a full-term pregnancy, did you have a vaginal delivery?
  • Have you ever had radiation therapy to your pelvic area?
  • Did your symptoms begin after an injury, insertion of a foreign body, anal intercourse, or a bowel movement?
  • Do you think that your problem may be related to sexual activity?
  • Do you engage in high-risk sexual behavior, such as having unprotected sex or multiple sex partners?
  • Have you ever been treated for a sexually transmitted infection (STI)?
  • Do you have other symptoms such as fatigue, unexplained weight loss, fever, or pain elsewhere in your body?
  • Have you recently traveled to a foreign country?
  • What prescription and nonprescription medicines do you take?
  • Do you have any health risks?

For rectal itching

  • Is there itching or a rash present on any other part of your body?
  • Are other members of your family also experiencing rectal itching?

For rectal pain

  • How severe is your pain? Is it constant or does it come and go? Is it getting worse? Is it related only to having a bowel movement?
  • Does the pain feel like it is coming from the inside or the outside of your anus?

For rectal bleeding

  • What does the blood in your stools look like? Is the stool mixed with blood, or does the blood coat the outside of formed stools? Are there large clots of blood in the toilet water?
  • Do you have bleeding from your gums, blood in your urine, large skin bruises, or a skin rash that looks like measles?
  • Is your rectal bleeding painful?
  • Is the blood bright red or dark purple?

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