A polyp is simply a cluster of cells that protrude through the wall of an organ. With bowel polyps, also known as colon polyps, these protrusions form along the lining of the large intestines. The key difference between these polyps and the polyps that can form in other areas of the body is that bowel polyps can become cancerous. When someone develops polyps within the bowel, they can cause the individual to suffer from some very distinct symptoms.
Absence of Symptoms
For many people, bowel polyps will cause no symptoms at all. This is largely due to the size and formation of the protrusions. When polyps are relatively small, around the size of pea, they won't actually disrupt the normal function of the large intestines, making it important, especially as people age, to seek out regular screenings.
Bowel polyps can cause some people to suffer from rectal bleeding. As a polyp grows in size, it can break, leading to the formation of a sore. When these sores bleed, the individual may notice traces of blood in the underwear or on toilet paper.
It is also possible for bowel polyps to change the appearance of a person's stool. When polyps form into ulcerated sores, the secreted blood can mix with the stool as it passes. With enough blood, the stool will become relatively dark and tarry in look or streaked with blood. It may also include traces of mucus.
For some people, a bowel polyp will prompt periodic diarrhea. As a polyp forms, it can disrupt the systematic movement of the colon. Normally, the muscles contract and relax in a rhythmic fashion, moving the stool through the tract. It is during this time where liquid is absorbed. But if contractions become longer and more frequent, the stool passes along at an accelerated rate. The faster it moves, the less liquid is absorbed, causing diarrhea.
For others, a bowel polyp will mean constipation. This process is basically the flip side of diarrhea where, instead of longer and more frequent contractions, there are shorter and more irregular ones. Since the large intestine is working in such a relaxed state, the stool moves much more slowly, allowing more time for liquid absorption. This causes the stool to become hard, making it difficult to pass.
It also isn't uncommon for bowel polyps to cause pain. This pain is typically connected to a cramp occurring within the large intestinal walls. When the muscles contract with great force, as can be seen with both diarrhea and constipation, it can cause the fibers to go into a spasm. This spasm doesn't allow the muscle to relax, which makes it cramp and causes pain.
While not necessarily as common as the other symptoms, it is also possible for a person to suffer from nausea while dealing with bowel polyps, especially those that are larger in size. When polyps become too big, they can cause an obstruction, triggering a response of nausea in some people. Sometimes, this nausea is so intense that it may cause vomiting.