When Do Hemorrhoids Require Medical Intervention
Your hemorrhoids can be an embarrassing topic to discuss with anyone, even your doctor. But hemorrhoids are common and affect 5% of adults in the United States every year, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Its estimated, in fact, that as many as three in four adults will experience problems with hemorrhoids at some point in their lives.
Though you can find many treatments for hemorrhoids at your local pharmacy, home remedies dont help everyone. At Rivas Digestive Center, located in Hollywood, Florida, our expert gastroenterologist, Dr. John Rivas, wants you to know when its time to get medical help for your hemorrhoids.
If You Notice Bleeding Before During Or After Bowel Movements
If you notice blood before, during, or after bowel movements, you should seek medical care. Bleeding during bowel movements may be associated with hemorrhoids, but it could also be a sign of something more serious, such as colon or anal cancer. Call your doctor so you can get an accurate diagnosis and rule out anything life-threatening. Your doctor can help you identify and address the cause of your bleeding. And if its hemorrhoids, they can offer treatment, relief, and suggestions to help you prevent hemorrhoids from recurring.
Easy Ways To Prevent Hemorrhoids
There are a number of easy, healthy ways to incorporate more fiber into your diet. Fiber-filled foods include fruits such as berries, avocados, and pears . Broccoli, artichokes, and Brussels sprouts are among the vegetables that can up your fiber intake. Whole grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal, are also an important source. Legumes, including lentils, various beans, and green peas, are a great way to get fiber. Nuts and seeds make for a great fiber-filled snack, too.
If you’re having trouble getting enough fiber in your regular diet, consider a fiber supplement.
If you experience chronic constipation and suspect that may be contributing to your hemorrhoids, avoid eating too many foods that contain little or no fiber, such as cheese and fast and processed foods.
Drink plenty of water and other fluids. Recommendations for daily water intake vary and depend on the individual, but the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies has set adequate intake levels at 2.7 liters for men and approximately 3.7 liters for women. This can come from beverages and food, but caffeinated beverages and alcohol can be dehydrating and should not be counted in reaching this intake goal.
Exercise regularly. Exercise, especially 20 to 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a day, can help keep bowel movements regular. And regular exercise may help you lose weight, which may be contributing to the formation of hemorrhoids.
Other tips for preventing hemorrhoids include:
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When Should I See A Doctor
See a healthcare professional if you start to notice pain and discomfort around your anus, especially when you sit or have a bowel movement.
Seek emergency medical attention if your symptoms worsen suddenly, especially if theyre interfering with your daily activities. Here are symptoms to watch out for:
Where Can I Go For Hemorrhoid Treatment
An essential initial step is to see your doctor for hemorrhoid treatment. You and your doctor can create a hemorrhoid treatment plan that is appropriate for you and your body.
Making an appointment with your doctor is especially critical if you are experiencing any rectal bleeding.
Bright red blood following a bowel movement is a common symptom of hemorrhoids, but it could be a sign of something more serious. Let your doctor determine if you need additional tests because after all, its better to be safe than sorry.
Many treatment options can be done in your own home. Your local drugstore carries all sorts of ointments, creams, wipes, cushions, supplements, and suppositories that are all designed for hemorrhoid relief.
These over the counter medications are effective in treating hemorrhoids, and for your convenience, can be found at nearly every type of store in your area.
If your family doctor feels it necessary, he or she will recommend or send you to a specialist. Hemorrhoids are easily treatable, but in some cases, our genetics can make this anorectal condition reluctant to respond with basic treatments, and can often produce reoccurring, life-hindering flare-ups.
Cases such as these are better to be dealt with the capable hands of a gastroenterologist or proctologist. At the first sign of hemorrhoids, however, you dont have to worry about going to see one of these specialists right away.
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Hemorrhoid Treatment In A Doctors Office With Or Without Surgery
Medical procedures may be needed for hemorrhoids that dont go away with home treatments.
Painful external hemorrhoids can be excised during an office visit following a shot of local anesthetic to numb the area.
For internal hemorrhoids, a few office procedures may be considered. In rubber band ligation, the most common hemorrhoid procedure performed in the United States, the doctor places a small rubber band around the base of the hemorrhoid, cutting off the hemorrhoid’s blood supply. The hemorrhoid typically shrinks and falls off within about a week, though several quick follow-up visits may be required to completely get rid of the hemorrhoid.
Other procedures include sclerotherapy, in which a chemical injected into the hemorrhoid causes scar tissue to form, shrinking the hemorrhoid and infrared coagulation, in which an intense beam of infrared light causes the scar tissue to form, cutting off the blood supply and shrinking the hemorrhoid.
If you have a large external hemorrhoid, both internal and external hemorrhoids, or an internal hemorrhoid thats prolapsed , a surgical operation called a hemorrhoidectomy may be necessary, though few patients require this procedure.
Another option that aims to reduce postoperative pain is a stapled hemorrhoidopexy, in which a device pulls the hemorrhoidal tissue upward and to its normal position, stapling it in place.
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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Lifestyle Changes For Managing Hemorrhoids
You may help prevent hemorrhoids from forming or from worsening with some lifestyle changes. These changes include:
- Do not while moving your bowels.
- Limit the amount of time you spend on the toilet.
- Increase fiber in your diet. Fiber helps give stool bulk so it can be moved through your intestines, and it also helps water remain in the stool so it does not become dry and difficult to pass.
- Increase fluid intake. Drink six to eight glasses of water and other liquids to help keep your stool soft.
- Exercise regularly. This will help regulate and stimulate your bowels.
- Apply topical ointments. OTC creams and suppositories can help relieve pain and reduce swelling.
What Kind Of Doctor Should I See About My Hemorrhoids
If you’re having some of the characteristic symptoms of hemorrhoids – swelling, bleeding, or pain – you may want to visit your regular doctor first. Often, hemorrhoids are mild and can be treated with certain lifestyle changes. If your doctor sees indications of a more complicated case of hemorrhoids or a more serious condition, they may refer you to a specialist like a gastroenterologist or a colon and rectal surgeon.
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What Treatment Methods Are Used By Hemorrhoid Specialists
A visual examination by a primary care doctor is often enough to diagnose a simple case of hemorrhoids, which can then be treated by using:
- corticosteroid cream, which can help to reduce swelling and pain
- hemorrhoid cream containing lidocaine, which helps to reduce pain
- stool softeners designed to minimise straining and constipation
Other useful home treatments include:
- applying witch hazel with a cotton swab
- wearing cotton underwear
- avoiding perfumed and coloured toilet tissue
- avoiding scratching the area
- using a warm-water Sitz bath to relieve the symptoms
In more complex cases, these treatments may not be enough to cure the problem. Where surgery is a recommended option, it will usually involve one of these procedures:
When To Call Your Doctor
Even if you think it’s from hemorrhoids, you should call your doctor about any rectal bleeding. It’s also a symptom of colon polyps, colitis, Crohn’s disease, diverticulitis, and colorectal cancer. Anal fissures can also cause pain and bleeding. So you’ll want to make sure you get the right diagnosis and treatment.
If your hemorrhoids are very painful or aren’t getting better after you’ve tried treating them yourself, let your doctor know.
How Long Do Hemorrhoids Take To Heal
For many people, hemorrhoids last and last. Ongoing pain is especially common for people over age 50. For many people, hemorrhoidal pain returns years after treatment, and for many others the condition comes and goes, becoming more common over time.
Do Hemorrhoids Ever Go Away on Their Own?
Sometimes they do. Smaller hemorrhoids are apt to go away in just a few days. It’s a good idea during this time to avoid further irritating your rectal area by keeping the area as clean as you can.
How Can You Make Hemorrhoids Go Away?
Tougher cases of hemorrhoids may not go away on their own. After trying home remedies and over-the-counter options without success, you will need to talk to your doctor about other treatment options.
Continue Learning About Hemorrhoids
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.
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Noticing An Anal Bulge That Retracts After Passing Stools
When you have internal hemorrhoids, they can prolapse your anal opening during a bowel movement. At first, the tissue may retract on its own, or you can easily push it back inside. But a prolapse can worsen over time and can eventually cause significant irritation, bleeding, itching, and pain as this internal tissue becomes trapped outside of your anus.
Get early treatment to prevent a prolapse from growing worse.
How Are They Diagnosed
Your doctor may perform one or more tests to examine the anal or rectal area for hemorrhoids:
- Looking at the anus or rectum. A doctor will likely be able to diagnose an external or prolapsed internal hemorrhoid through a visual examination.
- Doing a digital rectal exam. The doctor will insert a finger covered with a lubricated glove into the anus or rectum to feel for signs of hemorrhoids with the fingers.
- Using an imaging scope. This will help them look at the inside of your rectum to examine for internal hemorrhoids. Theyll usually insert a thin tube with the light on the end into your rectum. Tools used for this diagnosis may include an anoscope or sigmoidoscope.
Hemorrhoids have the same or similar symptoms to some other conditions. For that reason, see a healthcare professional if your symptoms continue for longer than a week.
Some conditions also cause rectal bleeding like hemorrhoids sometimes do. These include:
But blood from your digestive tract often appears black in your stool unless the bleeding occurs near your rectum and anus. If youre seeing bright red blood on the toilet paper after you wipe, its most likely due to a hemorrhoid or anal fissure.
Anal fissures and anorectal abscesses are the most likely cause of sharp pain while you have a bowel movement, but you might mistake them for a hemorrhoid.
Here are some home remedies to try if your symptoms arent too severe:
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Hemorrhoid Home Remedies: Warm Sitz Bath
A sitz bath refers to sitting in a few inches of warm water three times a day for 15 to 20 minutes. A sitz bath may help decrease the inflammation of hemorrhoids. Drying off the anal area completely after each sitz bath is important for minimizing moisture that irritates the skin surrounding your rectal area.
Hemorrhoids Are Common So Dont Be Shy About Seeking Relief
Most people dont want to talk about hemorrhoids. But keeping silent could stand in the way getting relief for a condition thats very common. And your doctor certainly doesnt mind addressing the topic of hemorrhoids. In fact, they want to discuss your symptoms. Because what you think is a hemorrhoid could be something more serious. Its best to get your hemorrhoids checked out early, for your peace of mind and to protect your health.Doctors have seen and heard everything, so you dont have to feel embarrassed when talking about hemorrhoids especially since nearly half of all adults experience them by age 50, says Dr. Christopher Buzas, a colorectal surgeon at Geisinger. However, its essential to get a medical diagnosis to rule out other conditions, like colon cancer or irritable bowel syndrome, and not rely on your own opinion about whats causing the problem.
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The Right Doctor For The Right Procedure
Its also important that you search your insurances website for doctors that are within your network. This will help prevent out-of-network charges and other out-of-pocket fees. When you have a list of doctors, its a good idea to meet with them to determine if they are right for you and your needs.
Its a good idea to ask friends and family if they have had experience with these doctors to get an idea of their experience as well as research the doctors license and any potential complaints against them.
Depending on the severity of the hemorrhoids, the doctor you pick depends on their specialty:
What Type Of Doctor Should I See
Start with your usual general surgeon or family doctor. Because hemorrhoids are so common, most doctors will have a lot of experience discussing your symptoms and possible treatment.
If your situation calls for referral to a hemorrhoid specialist, your regular doctor will refer you to a hemorrhoid doctor, that is, a proctologist or gastroenterologist.
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Look For Board Certification In Colon And Rectal Surgery
The American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery holds certified surgeons to the highest standards. There are very stringent educational, experiential, and testing requirements they must meet, in addition to passing the written Qualifying examination and the oral Certifying examination from the American Board of Surgery.
A board certified specialist will have at least four years of medical school in addition to at least five years of extensive general surgery training. In addition to all that, they will also undergo an additional year or more of supervised colon and rectal specialty training in an accredited fellowship program under the supervision of a certified specialist. This translates into a much higher level of operative and treatment experience than a general practitioner.
Common Hemorrhoid Symptoms To Watch For
The following signs and symptoms may indicate hemorrhoids:
- Bright red blood on toilet paper, in stool, or in the toilet bowl after a bowel movement
- Anal itching
- Pain around the anus, especially while sitting
- Pain during bowel movements
- One or more hard, painful lumps around the anus
If you have any symptoms of hemorrhoids, try to avoid excessive straining, rubbing, or cleaning around the anus.
Doing these things can make any irritation and itching worse, and can sometimes lead to bleeding.
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How Do I Know My Condition Warrants A Doctor Visit
This is one of the most common questions patients with hemorrhoids ask before seeing a doctor.
While all the symptoms of hemorrhoids can be irritating and leave you in serious discomfort, there are some telltale signs that you need to seek the advice of a medical professional.
Here are the signs from hemorrhoids that let you know you need to see a doctor:
- The presence of any type of rectal bleeding – While this is common amongst patients with hemorrhoids, there are some underlying conditions that can present with this symptom as well. Because these conditions are more severe, it is important to have your doctor diagnose your hemorrhoids properly to eliminate the idea that there is another condition causing the bleeding.
- Pain or discomfort that cant be ignored
- Persistence of your symptoms despite at-home remedies and over-the-counter treatments
- Black, maroon, or tarry looking stool, this can be a sign of rectal bleeding
Will My Doctor Use A Colonoscopy To Diagnose My Hemorrhoid
If your doctor feels something unusual or wants to look further to ensure accuracy in their diagnosis, they may perform a colonoscopy.
A colonoscopy gives your doctor the ability to examine your entire colon. A colonoscopy is performed at a medical treatment center or hospital under anesthesia.
During the procedure, your doctor will insert a small medical camera into the rectum to look closer at what is going on inside the rectum.
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