Intestinal polyps are protrusions of the intestinal wall which, depending on their size, can cause more or less pronounced symptoms. In most cases, intestinal polyps are asymptomatic and do not cause any symptoms. Such polyps are often discovered as a chance finding during a colonoscopy.
However, large polyps often make themselves noticeable by bleeding and abdominal pain. Since intestinal polyps can develop into intestinal cancer, they must be removed. This is done by endoscopy, i.e. during a colonoscopy. Further therapy is usually not necessary after the removal.
Overview of the symptoms
Intestinal polyps usually cause no symptoms and are often discovered by chance. However, larger intestinal polyps in particular lead to complaints in the gastrointestinal tract. Among the symptoms are: Constipation or diarrhoea Hidden or visible bleeding in the stool Abdominal pain Discoloration of the stool Traces of mucus in the stool Flatulence
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Hidden or visible bleeding in stool
- Abdominal pain
- Discoloration of the stool
- Traces of mucus in the stool
Abdominal pain is a common symptom of larger intestinal polyps. The growths on the intestinal mucosa can cause abdominal cramps and pain in the lower abdominal region. Affected persons describe the abdominal pain as pulling or stabbing.
Abdominal pain often occurs in combination with irregularities in bowel movements (constipation or diarrhoea). Severe abdominal cramps can also cause nausea and vomiting. People who suffer from these symptoms for a long time should consult a doctor, as they may be intestinal polyps.
The doctor will perform a colonoscopy and can diagnose the polyps. In the worst case, very large intestinal polyps can obstruct the passage of stool in the intestine and cause an intestinal obstruction (ileus). The affected patients then suffer from severe colicky pain and must be treated immediately.
Blood in the stool
Sometimes an intestinal polyp can bleed easily, which leads to blood in the stool. Typically, intestinal polyps bleed rather irregularly, which means that the stool is not always bloody. The blood is usually deposited in small amounts on the outside of the stool, but larger amounts of blood may also be present.
The colour of the blood gives an indication of how actual the bleeding is in the bowel. With fresh bleeding, the blood in the stool is light red. If the blood remains in the bowel for a long time, it is decomposed and turns dark to black.
Often, however, those affected do not notice that blood has been added to the stool. This is called occult blood in the stool, i.e. blood that is not visible to the naked eye. With a special test, the haemoccult test (guaiac test), the hidden blood can be detected in a stool sample.
If intestinal polyps bleed repeatedly over a longer period of time, the person concerned constantly loses blood via the stool. As a result, the permanent loss of blood can lead to anemia and the associated symptoms. Patients are pale, feel constantly tired and complain of exhaustion.
In healthy people, the stool usually has a light to dark brown colour. A dark or even black discolouration of the stool can indicate blood admixture and should be clarified by a doctor. A hemoccult test can clarify whether there is blood in the stool.
Larger intestinal polyps can occasionally bleed and lead to blood in the stool. If the blood remains in the bowel for a longer period of time, it changes colour from light red to black. This is due to the iron-containing haem, an important component of blood, which is decomposed in the intestine and turns the blood black. Discoloration of the stool can therefore be a symptom of intestinal polyps and requires a visit to the doctor.