Diarrhea is an unpleasant symptom that occurs with many diseases. It can be accompanied by a host of other symptoms including various sensations. One such sensation is burning, usually in the rectum or anus. The burning may or may not be related to the same condition that causes the diarrhea. While it is concerning, burning diarrhea may not be anymore serious than diarrhea without these types of unusual sensations.
Burning During and After Diarrhea
Burning diarrhea is not a specific medical condition. It can occur for several reasons and the meaning of burning diarrhea may be subjective. Most of the time it is where there is a burning sensation in the rectum or anus either while passing diarrheal stool and/or after passing stool. This type of burning sensation in the body where there is no external heat source is usually a sign of inflammation.
Inflammation is a process which minimizes tissue damage. The blood vessels in the inflamed area widens (vasodilation) and more blood flows to the area. Along with the other effects of inflammation, the temperature may increase at the inflamed area. However, burning is a similar sensation to pain and can occur even when there is no change of temperature at a specific site. It may be a signal that the area is undergoing injury or damaged.
Read more on burning bowel movement.
Causes of Burning Diarrhea
Some of the possible causes of burning diarrhea have been discussed below. It is important to note that the burning sensation is not usually due to the stool being very hot. Normally stool would be warm as it is housed within the colon and rectum which lie in the abdominal cavity. However, a burning sensation is usually an indication of inflammation of the colon, rectum and/or anus which may or may not be linked to the diarrhea.
Read more on painful bowel movements.
Injury and Irritation
Passing stool forcefully can cause irritation to the anus and sometimes even tissue injury when it occurs repeatedly over a short period of time. Another related factor that may injure and irritate the anus is repeatedly wiping the area after a bowel movement. Even soft toilet paper may be a problem when the area is inflamed and sensitive. Sometimes inadequate cleaning may cause fecal particles to remain on the skin of the anus where it causes irritation. The injury and irritation leads to inflammation which may cause a burning sensation.
Proctitis is the medical term for inflammation of the rectum. It can occur for many different reasons including inury and irritation, infections, allergies and autoimmune factors as is the case with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Infectious proctitis may be caused by many different types of infectious agents, some of which are sexually transmitted. When the rectum is infected there is pain and burning along with symptoms like diarrhea, constant urge to pass stool and blood or mucus in the stool.
The rectal veins can become engorged and swollen. This is known as hemorrhoids or piles. It is a common complication of diarrhea that persists for prolonged periods or if the diarrhea is severe. Sometimes hemorrhoids may be present prior to the onset of diarrhea and only become symptomatic once the diarrhea develops. Apart from the burning in the rectum and anus during and after passing stool, there may also be rectal bleeding and an urge to constantly pass stool even after a bowel movement.
Anal fissures are tiny tears in the anal mucosa. This is the tissue that lines the anus. It can occur with any injury or irritation to the anal mucosa, as may be caused by hard stools, chronic diarrhea and with repeated or vigorous wiping after a bowel movement. Fissures heal quickly once the cause subsides. A burning sensation is a common symptom of anal fissures and this burning may be triggered or worsened when passing stool and with wiping after defecation. There may also be itching and anal bleeding.
Certain substances in the stool can irritate and even injure the delicate lining of the anus. Spicy foods, especially those containing chili or hot peppers, can cause a burning sensation in the anus. It may also cause or worsen diarrhea, thereby resulting in burning diarrhea. Acidic substances in the stool are more likely to cause a burning sensation. Furthermore the burning may be more pronounced if the rectum or anus is already inflamed with other conditions. It is usually short-lived and eases once the irritant substance has been flushed out of the bowels.
Another possibility is the occurrence of fever with diarrhea. Fever tends to occur with infectious causes of diarrhea, like viral or bacterial gastroenteritis. The rise in the core body temperature can also cause diarrheal stool to feel warmer than normal. With the anus being very sensitive, this slight change in stool temperature may be perceived as burning diarrhea. There may also be associated inflammation of the colon and rectum, as may be seen with infectious colitis, which further contributes to the burning sensation when having a bowel movement.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an autoimmune condition affecting the gastrointestinal tract. Ulcerative colitis is usually limited to the large intestine while Crohn’s diseae may occur anywhere in the gut. With IBD the gut walls become inflamed and there may be abnormal growths and ulcers. This causes sensations like burning and pain along with other symptoms like mucus and blood in the stool as well as diarrhea. When there is inflammation of the rectum and anus then a person may experience burning diarrhea.
Colorectal cancer is one of the more serious conditions where burning diarrhea may occur. The pain or burning sensation is due to the malignant tumor invading the rectal tissue. Diarrhea may occur simultaneously along with other symptoms like rectal bleeding. It is not uncommon for these symptoms to be initially mistaken for other conditions, such as hemorrhoids or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, if there is also unintentional weight loss and other symptoms indicative of cancer, then colorectal cancer should be suspected and investigated.