Hemorrhoids: Signs Symptoms And Complications
Andy Miller, MD, is board-certified in internal medicine and infectious disease. He is an associate professor at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City.
For most people, the signs and symptoms of hemorrhoidsitchiness, swelling, discomfortwill be mild and respond to home remedies. In a minority of cases, however, hemorrhoid signs and symptoms will be severe enough that they require treatment from a physician. Rarely, hemorrhoids that cause significant blood loss or a blood clot can be life-threatening. It’s important to note that one of the chief calling cards of hemorrhoids, blood in or on the stool or on toilet paper, should never be considered normal. While the cause could indeed be hemorrhoids, a more serious condition could be afoot.
Hemorrhoids can come with external and/or internal symptoms, depending on how they form.
Hemorrhoids on the outside of the anus are known as external hemorrhoids. A hard lump might be felt in that area and can often be uncomfortable because it is irritated by bowel movements and by wiping with toilet paper. External hemorrhoids are painful because of the many nerve endings located on the skin around the anus.
They Don’t Go It Alone
If you’re a lone wolf, it’s time to join a pack. “Everybody needs some support, whether it’s emotional or logistical, so you stay accountable,” Hill says.
Try teaming up with family, friends, or co-workers, or sign up for a weight loss support group even if you’re already at your goal weight, Kahan says. If you slimmed down with help from a dietitian or other expert, keep checking in with that person every now and then.
Procedures For Hemorrhoids Treatment
Some hemorrhoids can’t be managed with conservative treatments alone, either because symptoms persist or because an internal hemorrhoid has prolapsed. Fortunately, a number of minimally invasive hemorrhoid treatments are available that are less painful than traditional hemorrhoid removal and allow a quicker recovery. These procedures are generally performed in a surgeon’s office or as outpatient surgery in a hospital.
Band it. The most commonly used hemorrhoid treatment in the United States is rubber band ligation, in which a small elastic band is placed around the base of a hemorrhoid . The band causes the hemorrhoid to shrink and the surrounding tissue to scar as it heals, holding the hemorrhoid in place. It takes two to four procedures, done six to eight weeks apart, to completely eliminate the hemorrhoid. Complications, which are rare, include mild pain or tightness , bleeding, and infection. Other office procedures include laser or infrared coagulation, sclerotherapy, and cryosurgery. They all work on the same principle as rubber band ligation but are not quite as effective in preventing recurrence. Side effects and recurrence vary with the procedure, so consult your physician about what’s best for your situation.
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Whom Do Hemorrhoids Affect
Although most people think hemorrhoids are abnormal, almost everyone has them. Hemorrhoids help control bowel movements. Hemorrhoids cause problems and can be considered abnormal or a disease only when the hemorrhoidal clumps of vessels enlarge.
Hemorrhoids occur in almost everyone, and an estimated 75% of people will experience enlarged hemorrhoids at some point. However only about 4% will go to a doctor because of hemorrhoid problems. Hemorrhoids that cause problems are found equally in men and women, and their prevalence peaks between 45 and 65 years of age.
Apply Witch Hazel To Reduce Discomfort
Witch hazel is a popular herbal remedy for a variety of illnesses and ailments, including hemorrhoids. Witch hazel, when used as an appointment or cream, can reduce irritations and help soothe the discomfort inherent with hemorrhoid development.
In many ways, a witch hazel cream or ointment may be a better choice if you need a topical solution for your problem. OTC creams with synthetic additives can irritate the skin around a hemorrhoid or make things even worse. Witch hazel doesnt have these potential side effects to worry about.
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The Most Common Symptom Of Internal Hemorrhoids Is Bleeding
Internal hemorrhoids form when blood vessels inside the rectum become swollen and engorged. Although they form in the lowest part of the rectum, internal hemorrhoids are still far enough inside you may not even know that theyre there. In fact, everyone actually has internal hemorrhoids, but we only notice them once they become a problem. Internal hemorrhoids can worsen over time, but since there are very few pain-sensing nerves in the lower rectal area, you are unlikely to feel any pain. In fact, the most common symptoms of mild internal hemorrhoids is bleeding. You can read more about hemorrhoid bleeding on our blog: here. However, when internal hemorrhoids become moderate to severe, you will likely begin to experience those hard-to-ignore hemorrhoid symptoms.
What Are Some Home Remedies For Hemorrhoids
Home remedies for hemorrhoids include warm baths, cold packs, and over the counter medications. It is easy to practice proper bowel habits at home. Be sure to go when you feel the urge to have a bowel movement.
If you are dealing with painful or itchy hemorrhoids, try rinsing your anal area after bowel movements. When you avoid wiping, it can speed up the healing process.
Simple lifestyle changes, including increasing fiber and water intake and daily exercise, can also be an effective at-home treatment.
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What Are The Symptoms
The most common symptoms of both internal and external hemorrhoids include:
- Bleeding during bowel movements. You might see streaks of bright red blood on toilet paper after you strain to have a bowel movement.
- Rectal pain. It may be painful to clean the anal area.
With internal hemorrhoids, you may see bright red streaks of blood on toilet paper or bright red blood in the toilet bowl after you have a normal bowel movement. You may see blood on the surface of the stool.
Internal hemorrhoids often are small, swollen veins in the wall of the anal canal. But they can be large, sagging veins that bulge out of the anus all the time. They can be painful if they bulge out and are squeezed by the anal muscles. They may be very painful if the blood supply to the hemorrhoid is cut off. If hemorrhoids bulge out, you also may see mucus on the toilet paper or stool.
External hemorrhoids can get irritated and clot under the skin, causing a hard painful lump. This is called a thrombosed, or clotted, hemorrhoid.
What Will Happen If I Let Hemorrhoids Go Untreated
Hemorrhoids will often go away on their own. However, you may want to soak them or use a topical ointment to shrink them so that they are less painful. If you notice more blood or hemorrhoid-related pain gets worse, you should talk to a doctor to ensure you dont have an infection or other complications.
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Different Kinds Of Hemorrhoids Can Cause Similar Symptoms
When internal hemorrhoids do progress, they will often protrude outside the anus, becoming prolapsed hemorrhoids. You can read about prolapsed hemorrhoids in several of our blog posts: Prolapsed Internal Hemorrhoids, What is a Prolapsed Hemorrhoid, and Rectal Prolapse or Hemorrhoids?). An internal hemorrhoid that has reached this stage can cause some external hemorrhoid-like symptoms, such as itchiness and swelling. Since prolapsed hemorrhoids and external hemorrhoids can cause similar symptoms, its sometimes difficult to know which is which without a doctors professional diagnosis. It is also not uncommon for both to be present at once.
How To Get Rid Of Hemorrhoids: Diagnosis And Treatments
Most individuals who have hemorrhoids discover them by either
- feeling the lump of an external hemorrhoid when they wipe themselves after a bowel movement,
- noting drops of blood in the toilet bowl or on the toilet paper, or
- feeling a prolapsing hemorrhoid after bowel movements.
With a history of symptoms, a physician can begin diagnosis on the basis of a careful examination of the anus and anal area. Although the physician should try his or her best to identify the hemorrhoids, it is perhaps more important to exclude other causes of hemorrhoid-like symptoms that require different treatment such as
- anal fissures,
This is true whether or not hemorrhoids are found during anoscopy.
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How Should I Use This Medicine
This medicine is for use on the skin. This medicine may be used in the mouth, nose, or throat and may be applied by a health care professional. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Apply your medicine at regular intervals. Do not use it more often than directed.
Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. While this drug may be prescribed for selected conditions, precautions do apply.
Overdosage: If you think you have taken too much of this medicine contact a poison control center or emergency room at once.
NOTE: This medicine is only for you. Do not share this medicine with others.
Dietary Changes And Self Care
If constipation is thought to be the cause of your haemorrhoids, you need to keep your stools soft and regular, so that you don’t strain when passing stools.
You can do this by increasing the amount of fibre in your diet. Good sources of fibre include wholegrain bread, cereal, fruit and vegetables.
You should also drink plenty of water and avoid caffeine .
When going to the toilet, you should:
- avoid straining to pass stools, because it may make your haemorrhoids worse
- use moist toilet paper, rather than dry toilet paper, or baby wipes to clean your bottom after passing a stool
- pat the area around your bottom, rather than rubbing it
Read more about preventing constipation.
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When Should You Call Your Doctor
Common symptoms of hemorrhoids may be a sign of other serious health problems. Colon or rectal cancer and other conditions have many of the same symptoms as hemorrhoids. Call your doctor if you have symptoms like these:
- Stools are black or tarry.
- A lump or bulge that is not tender and does not go away develops at the anal opening.
If you have hemorrhoids, call your doctor if:
- Moderate rectal pain lasts longer than 1 week after home treatment.
- Pain or swelling is severe.
- Tissue from inside the body bulges from the anus and does not return to normal after 3 to 7 days of home treatment.
- A lump inside the anus becomes bigger or more painful.
If rectal bleeding becomes heavy or changes colour , or if stools change size, shape, or colour , be sure to see your doctor.
Relieve Pain And Itching
- Take non-prescription pain relievers. Acetaminophen can help with pain. Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen can help with pain and swelling.
- Apply ice several times a day for 10 minutes at a time. Follow this by placing a warm compress on the anal area for another 10 to 20 minutes.
- Take a sitz bath. Fill your bathtub with just enough warm water to cover the anal area. Do this several times a day, especially after you have had a bowel movement. Soak for about 15 minutes at a time. Be careful! If the water is too warm, it can burn you.
Use non-prescription medicines as recommended by your doctor or pharmacist. See the Medications section of this topic for information on non-prescription ointments, creams, and suppositories.
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Research And Statistics: Who Gets Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids are very common in both men and women, affecting about 1 in 20 Americans. The most common time to get hemorrhoids is between ages 45 and 65. Hemorrhoids are also common in pregnant women.
By age 50, about half of us have experienced hemorrhoid symptoms, such as itching, bleeding, and rectal pain. At any given time, about 10 million Americans roughly 4 percent of adults have hemorrhoids. Its estimated that 75 percent of Americans will have hemorrhoids at some point in their lives.
What Causes Hemorrhoids In Women And What Causes Hemorrhoids During Pregnancy
As mentioned earlier, hemorrhoids do not have any particular gender or age to attack! Suffering from piles during pregnancy is a common problem that women face because of the lack of nutritional and fibrous foods in their diet. The zeal to eat decreases during pregnancy because of some obvious facts. The body does not get enough fibrous food, which makes the would-be-mother suffer from this state. It is exceptionally painful during pregnancy if you are going through hemorrhoids as well.
If you are asking and looking for answers to what causes hemorrhoids in females, then the answer is all the same! For men or women, the causes of suffering from piles are the same- lack of fibrous food and excessively straining during the bowel movement.
In pregnancy cases, the enlargement of the uterus and increased blood flow from the body to the pelvic region can cause the veins in the rectal wall to swell and bulge. This situation can lead the woman to suffer from piles. However, it is not compulsory thing to suffer from hemorrhoids during pregnancy. Proper care and prevention of certain things can lead the mother to lead a normal life- without any added difficulties!
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The Unavoidable Factor Men Cannot Denyage
As much as we do not like to admit it, growing older is inevitable, as are all of the health factors that accompany our age.
Growing older means that the connective tissues in the lower rectal region weaken, and the veins that push blood vessels along to this anal and rectal area are not as efficient as they would be in the prime of youth.
This is why irritated hemorrhoids form so often in older adults, and older men can attest to dealing with the formation of painful external hemorrhoids and their corresponding symptoms.
And while hemorrhoids are one of the primary reasons for anal and rectal bleeding, itching, and discomfort, it could be an indication of a more serious condition.
Hemorrhoid bleeding can be a sign of a few serious health issues.
Following prostate and lung cancer, colorectal is the third most common cancer among men.
As men age, their risk of cancer subsequently increases. As you can see, there is the utmost importance of informing your doctor if you are experiencing bleeding from the anal region, as it could be a sign of this common cancer.
Your doctor may want to proceed with additional examinations and tests just to be sure.
A hemorrhoid doctor can help you determine what type of hemorrhoid you have.
High Fat And Low Fiber: The Diet Behind Hemorrhoids
For men, hemorrhoids are commonly connected to the diet. It can be easy to slip into a bad diet and connectively, bad habits to go along with it.
Sometimes, though, men dont realize the impact the bi-weekly, high-fat burger has on their health, and ultimately, their hemorrhoids.
High-fat diets limit the number of nutrients you consume, and this can be detrimental to your health.
Yes, bacon every morning sounds good, but what is it really doing to your health?
Foods that are high in fat limit your metabolism and your ability to push foods through your body, hence the risk of constipation. A combination of constipation and meals that dont chalk up to the daily recommendation of fiber consumption leads to one thing for men, inflamed hemorrhoids.
And as you already know, constipation is one of the leading causes of a painful hemorrhoid flare-up.
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What Are The Types Of Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids can happen inside or outside the rectum. The type depends on where the swollen vein develops. Types include:
- External: Swollen veins form underneath the skin around the anus. Your anus is the canal where poop comes out. External hemorrhoids can be itchy and painful. Occasionally, they bleed. Sometimes they fill with blood that can clot. This is not dangerous, but can result in pain and swelling.
- Internal: Swollen veins form inside the rectum. Your rectum is the part of the digestive system that connects the colon to the anus. Internal hemorrhoids may bleed, but they usually arent painful.
- Prolapsed: Both internal and external hemorrhoids can prolapse, meaning they stretch and bulge outside of the anus. These hemorrhoids may bleed or cause pain.
Obesity Or Being Overweight
Obesity is noted to be another cause of hemorrhoids. Carrying around excess weight is typically associated with a sedentary or stationary lifestyle. Without exercise, your body will be more prone to developing hemorrhoids. The added weight in your abdominal area can affect the rectal veins and place increased pressure in this area. If you currently live a sedentary lifestyle you are at risk for developing hemorrhoids or aggravating existing hemorrhoids.
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What Causes Hemorrhoids And Fissures
As discussed, hemorrhoids are caused by repeated pressure and strain on the anal and rectum veins. Anal fissures, on the other hand, is caused by trauma to the anal canal, generally during the bowel movement. There is no compulsion for you to suffer from fissures if you are suffering from hemorrhoids or vice versa.
What Causes External Hemorrhoids
The most common cause of external hemorrhoids is repeated straining while having a bowel movement. Hemorrhoids develop when the veins of the rectum or anus become dilated or enlarged and can be either internal or external. External hemorrhoids are usually found beneath the skin that surrounds the anus.
There is a range of symptoms that can affect a person with hemorrhoids. Symptoms tend to vary depending on the severity of your hemorrhoids. Some of the symptoms that you may have include the following:
You may notice bleeding when using the bathroom. This includes seeing blood on toilet paper or in the toilet. Lumps around the anus may feel as if they are swollen.
These symptoms may also occur because of other conditions. But if you experience these symptoms, you should schedule an exam with your doctor.
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