Hemorrhoids Symptoms & Treatments
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in your rectum and anus. There are two types of hemorrhoids: internal and external. Internal hemorrhoids develop inside the rectum. Most of the time you can’t see them and they don’t cause any symptoms. Sometimes, however, straining to pass stool during bowel movements can cause these hemorrhoids to push through the anus. This is known as a prolapsed hemorrhoid, which can cause pain and irritation.
External hemorrhoids are visible just under the skin around the anus. They can itch or bleed if irritated, and if they become swollen with blood, a clot can form. This is called a thrombosed hemorrhoid, which can be very painful.
Hemorrhoids are a very common condition. Nearly half of all Americans 50 and older will experience this conditions at one time or another.
Veins around the anus can swell due to increased pressure in the area, which may be caused by:
- Straining during bowel movements
- Sitting on the toilet for long periods of time
- Chronic constipation or diarrhea
- Not consuming enough fiber
- Age (50 and up)
- Lifting heavy objects
In many cases, hemorrhoids do not cause any symptoms. If they do, symptoms may vary according to the type of hemorrhoid:
- External hemorrhoids, which can be felt under the skin around the anus, can cause pain, itching, pressure, and bleeding.
- Internal hemorrhoids may cause painless rectal bleeding. A prolapsed hemorrhoid can cause pain and discomfort.
Your doctor can diagnose external hemorrhoids based on a visual examination of the anal area. To diagnose internal hemorrhoids, the doctor will perform a physical exam, which typically includes a digital rectal exam. Your doctor may also examine the lower portion of your colon and rectum with an anoscope or sigmoidoscope.
- Eat high-fiber foods and/or use a fiber supplement, which will help soften stools so you don’t have to strain during bowel movements
- Use an over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream or suppository to improve symptoms of itching
- Soak the anal area in a warm or sitz bath two to three times a day
- Instead of dry toilet paper, use a moist towelette to wipe with after a bowel movement
- Rubber band ligation: The doctor will place rubber bands around the around the base of an internal hemorrhoid to cut off its circulation. Within a week, it will dry up and fall off.
- Injection sclerotherapy: The doctor will inject a chemical solution into the hemorrhoid to make it shrink.
- Infrared or laser coagulation: The doctor uses laser of infrared heat to destroy a hemorrhoid.
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