Diarrhea is a very common ailment of the digestive tract that everyone experiences multiple times in their lives. Medically, diarrhea is defined as having more than three bowel movements in a day. Typically, the stool in diarrhea has a loose and watery consistency. Diarrhea is not a disease. It is a sign of many diseases of the digestive tract.
Hot or Burning Sensation when Passing Stool
Diarrhea may either be the only sign of an underlying digestive disorder or could be accompanied by other signs and symptoms. A burning sensation in the rectum and anus is one such accompanying symptom.
The burning sensation that accompanies diarrhea in some cases may or may not be related to the cause of diarrhea. Despite the unpleasant sensation, one should not assume that burning diarrhea is a more serious condition than diarrhea without any accompanying burning sensation.
Diarrhea accompanied by a burning sensation in the rectum or anus (burning diarrhea) is not a distinct medical condition. The term “burning” is open to subjective interpretation, and can refer to different types of conditions. Typically, the burning sensation that occurs during or after the passage of stools through the rectum and anus is caused by inflammation.
An injured tissue naturally responds by eliciting an inflammatory reaction that is aimed at reducing the extent of tissue damage. Pain that may be felt as a burning sensation is one of the characteristic signs of inflammation. Therefore, burning diarrhea usually indicates the presence of a tissue injury in the rectum or anus.
Causes of Burning Sensation with Diarrhea
Even though the stool stored in the colon and rectum is warm, a burning sensation during diarrhea is not typically due to the heat from the stool. Instead, a burning sensation during diarrhea suggests the presence of injury and inflammation in the tissues of the rectum or anus. The injury and inflammation may or may not be associated with the cause of the diarrhea.
Read more on spicy food diarrhea.
A burning sensation during or after the passage of stools is typically an indication of tissue injury in the lower parts of the digestive tract, such as the rectum and anus. Such injuries can occur due to different reasons. For example, the anal mucosa may get injured by repeated forceful expulsion of stool.
Wiping the anal area vigorously after a bowel movement could also injure and irritate the skin of the anus. Irritation of the anal area may also be caused by the presence of fecal particles that do not get washed away during a cleanup of the anal region.
Proctitis refers to inflammation in the rectum. The most common causes of proctitis include infections, tissue injuries, autoimmune diseases and allergies. Infectious causes of proctitis are varied. Some may also be sexually transmitted.
Inflammatory bowel disease is an example of an autoimmune condition that can cause proctitis. Common signs and symptoms of proctitis include diarrhea, burning sensation or pain in the rectum, presence of mucus or blood in stool, and a constant urge to defecate.
Hemorrhoids refer to a condition in which the veins of the rectum become swollen due to pooling of blood. Also known as piles, hemorrhoids are a common occurrence after severe and persistent diarrhea. In some cases, asymptomatic pre-existing hemorrhoids may get exacerbated by diarrhea.
Pain and burning sensation during and after defecation is a characteristic feature of hemorrhoids. The burning sensation during defecation may also be accompanied by bleeding. One may also have a constant urge to pass stool, even after defecating.
The term “fissures” refers to the occurrence of tiny tears in a tissue. Tears in the anal mucosa (anal fissures) can be a cause of burning diarrhea. Anal fissures can occur due to irritation or injury to the anal mucosa. Such injuries to the anal mucosa could be associated with chronic diarrhea, constipation, and vigorous wiping or cleaning of the anal area.
Anal fissures may cause a burning sensation in the anal area. Defecation may worsen the burning sensation further. The anal area may also itch due to the presence of anal fissures. Bleeding may also be occur from these fissures. Once the cause of the injury is eliminated, anal fissures can heal fairly quickly.
Substances in the stool
The composition of stool depends on the types of foods and beverages that one consumes. Some types of food, such as spicy and acidic foods, can form stools that cause a burning sensation in the anal area during defecation.
The presence of injuries in the mucosa of the rectum and anus could heighten the pain associated with the presence of acidic or spicy components in the stool. A burning sensation caused by acidic stools is short-lived. The sensation subsides when the irritant stool is cleared from the bowels.
Fever and infections
Fever refers to an abnormal rise in the core body temperature. It is not a disease. The presence of fever typically indicates the presence of an underlying disease. Infectious diarrheal diseases such as gastroenteritis tend to be associated with fever. The stools in gastroenteritis are also warmer than usual.
The passage of the warm stool in gastroenteritis may cause a burning sensation in the colon and rectum. Diseases such as infectious colitis may also cause inflammation of the mucosa in the colon and rectum. The burning sensation during defecation may get enhanced further due to the presence of such inflammation in the bowels.
Inflammatory bowel disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (commonly abbreviated as IBD) is an autoimmune disorder of the gut. There are two main types of inflammatory bowel disease: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Ulcerative colitis is typically restricted to the large intestine.
However, Crohn’s disease may affect any part of the intestine. Inflammation of the walls of the intestine is a hallmark of inflammatory bowel disease. Ulcers and abnormal growths may also be present in the walls of the gut. Diarrhea, burning pain sensation, and presence of blood and mucus in stools are also common occurrences in inflammatory bowel disease.
Read more on inflammatory bowel disease.
Burning diarrhea is also a feature of colorectal cancer. Blood in stools may also occur in this condition. It is easy to erroneously attribute these symptoms to conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and hemorrhoids.
However, if these symptoms are accompanied by unexpected weight loss, one should check for the presence of colorectal cancer. The burning pain sensation during diarrhea in colorectal cancer is a result of invasion of the rectal tissue by the malignant tumor.