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One of the cardinal signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids is the presence of bright red blood on the toilet paper when you wipe after a bowel movement. As stool forces its way past the inflamed veins, there may be small bursting or cracking, resulting in a swab of blood. But there are other conditions that could be responsible for this blood, and it is important to differentiate between them.
Another minor condition which may cause rectal bleeding is an anal fissure. Similar to hemorrhoids, anal fissures form when stool passes rather forcefully through the anal opening on its way out. Small tears in the anal tissue cause the bleeding, and there is usually pain as well.
Some more serious gastrointestinal problems may also cause rectal bleeding as well as confusion with hemorrhoid symptoms. These include: