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How Are IBS and Hemorrhoids Similar?

Published date: April 15, 2023 | Modified date:
by Dr Stephen Wangen

Here’s what we’re going to cover

  1. The Difference Between IBS Symptoms and Hemorrhoids
  2. Can You Have Hemorrhoids and IBS?
  3. Do I Have Hemorrhoids and IBS?
  4. Do Hemorrhoids Affect the Large Intestine
  5. How Do You Treat IBS and Hemorrhoids?

The Difference Between IBS Symptoms and Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are swollen or inflamed veins that occur around the anus, and can be either internal hemorrhoids or external hemorrhoids, meaning that they are either in the rectum, or just outside the rectum on the exterior side of the anus.

People with IBS have either diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, gas or bloating.  They may have only one of these, or they may have all five. And some people have alternating constipation and diarrhea.

Can You Have Hemorrhoids and IBS?

Hemorrhoids occur when there is a lot of irritation to that part of the body, the anus. There are many possible causes for that irritation, and one of those causes is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

IBS often involves diarrhea or constipation, both of which can create a lot irritation around the anus. People with diarrhea often have multiple bowel movements per day, which means a lot more wiping than average, which can cause inflammation at the anus.

The same goes for very soft stools that are muddy or sticky and require a lot of wiping.  This often leads to hemorrhoids, or at the very least is very uncomfortable.

Constipation can also cause damage and inflammation around the anus, simply from the straining to have a bm and/or the stretching of the tissue in that area in order to pass a large bowel movement. That can damage the tissue down there, which can lead to hemorrhoids.

Do I Have Hemorrhoids and IBS?

If your anus is very sensitive to wiping, and you have bright red blood on the toilet paper, then it’s likely that you have hemorrhoids. You may also have an itchy anus when you have hemorrhoids.  And your bowel movements are likely very uncomfortable down there.

The only way to know for sure is to see your doctor and to be examined for hemorrhoids. This is always wise, as there are other reasons that you can see blood or experience an itchy anus, so it’s important to rule out those other things. But the most common cause is hemorrhoids.

Do Hemorrhoids Affect the Large Intestine

The rectum is part of the large intestine, and that’s where internal hemorrhoids occur, so technically the answer is yes. But if you are asking this question, I suspect that it’s because you are wondering if your hemorrhoids are causing your IBS.

This is unlikely. I’ve seen many cases of IBS cause hemorrhoids, but it’s rare to see IBS caused by hemorrhoids. However, it’s not impossible.

Severe cases of hemorrhoids may make it almost impossible to have a normal bowel movement. Sometimes this is interpreted as IBS. These patients are often using stool softeners or are doing other things so that they can have a softer bowel movement and therefore less irritation of their hemorrhoids.

This is where things get complicated, because when you are taking measures to help your hemorrhoids, your may be doing things that are causing or contributing to IBS.

How Do You Treat IBS and Hemorrhoids?

In most cases you need to focus on treating the cause of the problem, which is usually the IBS. Once patients resolve their IBS, then their hemorrhoids are often able to heal because the source of the irritation is gone.

But if your hemorrhoids are severe, you may need to deal with the IBS and the hemorrhoids separately. In these cases your hemorrhoids won’t heal even when your IBS is gone, because there is more damage than you can recover from on your own.  And you’ll probably know within a week or two. An IBS specialist (not to be confused with a gastroenterologist), will be able to help you with your IBS. And you may need to see a colorectal surgeon to help repair your hemorrhoids.

Do you have IBS and hemorrhoids?  If so, don’t give up hope. We’ve seen many patients who’ve been able to overcome this frustrating problem.