Almost everyone will get hemorrhoids at some point in their life. Most of the time, symptoms go away on their own, after a few days, even without treatment. On occasion, your hemorrhoid condition is complex and needs a doctor's attention. That's where we can help.
Hemorrhoids are enlarged or swollen veins in the bottom of the rectum or the anus. They do not usually cause serious health problems. But they can be annoying and uncomfortable.
Hemorrhoids are common, occurring in both men and women. They are more common in people:
- Pelvic tumors
- Pregnancy, both during or after
- Sendenaty people, or those who sit for prolonged periods of time
- Those who have diarrhea or constipation
- Who are older
Treatment consists of dietary changes and having regular bowel habits. If your hemorrhoids are large, do not go away on their own or you have many hemorrhoids, you may need surgery.
Causes of hemorrhoids
In general the cause of hemorrhoids is increased pressure on the veins in the pelvis and rectal area. The cause of this can be:
- Excessive straining found with chronic constipation
- Excessive straining found with chronic diarrhea
- Pregnancy, due to pressure in the pelvis from the baby in the uterus
- Prolonged daily sitting like with truck drivers or other sedentary professions
Symptoms of hemorrhoids
The most common symptoms of hemorrhoids include the following:
- Painless rectal bleeding, usually is a small amount
- Anal itching or pain, due to irritation of the skin surrounding the anus
- Tissue bulging around the anus, some people can see or feel hemorrhoids on the outside of the anus
- Leakage of feces or difficulty cleaning after a bowel movement
Many people with hemorrhoids notice bright red blood on the stool, in the toilet or on the tissue after a BM. The amount of blood is usually small. Yet even a small amount of blood can cause the water to appear bright red. This can be frightening.
Less common is heavy bleeding.
While hemorrhoids are one of the most common reasons for rectal bleeding, there are other, more serious causes. It is not possible to know what is causing rectal bleeding unless you have an examination. You should seek medical attention if you see bleeding after a bowel movement.
Hemorrhoids can become painful. If you develop severe pain, call your healthcare provider immediately. This may be a sign of a serious problem.
Testing for hemorrhoids
Often your doctor can determine if you have hemorrhoids by asking about your symptoms and doing a physical examination.
Your doctor will do a digitial rectal examination, an exam using a gloved finger inside your rectum. You may need to do an anoscopy. This is where your doctor inserts a short, lighted scope into your anus and exams the inside of your anal canal. You may need to have a Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy for further testing.
Hemorrhoids hidden inside the rectum are “internal” hemorrhoids. You cannot see them, but they can cause symptoms.
Hemorrhoids that you can see or feel are “external” hemorrhoids.
Reproduced with permission from: Patient Information: Hemorrhoids (The Basics). In: UpToDate, Basow, DS (Ed), UpToDate, Waltham, MA 2012. Copyright © 2012 UpToDate, Inc. For more information visit www.uptodate.com.
External hemorrhoids are visible on the outside of the anus and originate in the lower part of the anus. These can become inflammed and the blood inside the veins can become clotted. This is a thrombosed, or clotted, hemorrhoid.
Internal Hemorrhoids are generally not visible on the outside. This is because they originate higher up in the anal canal. Internal hemorrhoids more commonly cause bleeding after a bowel movement.
If internal hemorrhoids become large and severe, they can push out through the anus, becoming visible. This can be very painful. This is especially true if the hemorrhoid becomes trapped in the anal muscle and cannot go back inside.
Classification of Internal Hemorrhoids:
- Grade 1 (minor) - A hemorrhoid is present but only visualized by a doctor with ansocopy or colonoscopy. The hemorrhoid does not extend out the anus.
- Grade 2 - The hemorrhoid(s) extends out of the anus with a bowel movement or with straining. After your BM, the hemorrhoid goes back inside on its own.
- Grade 3 - The hemorrhoid(s) extends out of the anus with a bowel movement or with straining. You have to manually push the hemorrhoid back inside the anus. If you have this, you should seek medical attention, but it is not urgent.
- Grade 4 (severe) - A hemorrhoid(s) extends outside the anus and are not able to be manually pushed back inside. If you have this seek medical attention immediately. There are significant potential complications.
Most of the time, hemorrhoid symptoms go away after a few days even without treatment. If not, treatment focuses on relieving the pain.