Hemorrhoids

What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are when the veins or blood vessels in and around your anus and lower rectum become swollen and irritated. This happens when there is extra pressure on these veins.

Hemorrhoids can be either inside your anus (internal) or under the skin around your anus (external).

They are very common in both men and women. About half of all people will have hemorrhoids by age 50.

Many women get hemorrhoids during pregnancy and childbirth. The pressure of carrying a baby in your belly puts extra stress on the blood vessels in your pelvic area. Straining to push the baby out when giving birth also puts extra pressure on these blood vessels.

Who is at risk for hemorrhoids?

You are more likely to get hemorrhoids if you:

  • Are pregnant
  • Sit on the toilet for too long
  • Are obese
  • Do things that make you strain more, such as heavy lifting
  • Have a family history of hemorrhoids
  • Have long-term or chronic constipation or diarrhea
  • Are between 45 and 65 years old

What are the symptoms of hemorrhoids?

Each person’s symptoms may vary. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Bright red blood in your stool, on toilet paper, or in your toilet bowl
  • Pain and irritation around your anus
  • Swelling or a hard lump around your anus
  • Itching

Hemorrhoid symptoms may look like other health problems. Always see your healthcare provider to be sure.

How are hemorrhoids diagnosed?

Having blood in your stool can also be a sign of other digestive disorders, such as colorectal cancer. It’s important to see your healthcare provider for a complete exam.

To see if you have hemorrhoids, your healthcare provider may do several tests, including:

Physical exam:

This is done to check your anus and rectum and look for swollen blood vessels that are a sign of hemorrhoids.

Digital rectal exam (DRE). Your healthcare provider inserts a gloved, greased (lubricated) finger into your rectum to check for any problems.

Anoscopy:

A hollow, lighted tube is put into your anus. This is used to see internal hemorrhoids.

Proctoscopy:

A lighted tube is put into your anus. This gives a view of your entire rectum.

Sigmoidoscopy:

This test checks the inside of part of your large intestine. It helps to tell what is causing diarrhea, belly pain, constipation, abnormal growths, and bleeding. A short, flexible, lighted tube (sigmoidoscope) is put into your intestine through the rectum. This tube blows air into your intestine to make it swell. This makes it easier to see inside. A tissue sample (biopsy) can be taken if needed.

Colonoscopy:

This test looks at the full length of your large intestine. It can help check for any abnormal growths, tissue that is red or swollen, sores (ulcers), or bleeding. A long, flexible, lighted tube called a colonoscope is put into your rectum up into the colon. This tube lets your healthcare provider see the lining of your colon and take out a tissue sample (biopsy) to test it. They may also be able to treat some problems that may be found.

How are hemorrhoids treated?

Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.

The main goal of treatment is to reduce your symptoms. This may be done by:

Sitting in plain, warm water in a bathtub several times a day (sitz bath)

Using ice packs to reduce swelling

Using hemorrhoid creams or medicines inserted into your rectum (suppositories)

In some cases, surgery is needed. There are several types of surgeries used to remove or reduce internal and external hemorrhoids. These include:

Laser therapy:

We use laser technology to treat this problem. The main advantage of this method is less pain in postoperative period.

Rubber band ligation:

A rubber band is placed around the base of the hemorrhoid inside your rectum to cut off circulation to the hemorrhoid. The hemorrhoid shrinks and goes away in a few days.

Sclerotherapy:

A chemical solution is shot (injected) around the blood vessel to shrink the hemorrhoid.

Hemorrhoidectomy and hemorrhoidopexy:

These procedures permanently remove your hemorrhoids.

Talk with your healthcare provider about the risks, benefits, and possible side effects of all treatments.