Hemorrhoids


Hemorrhoids are a very common problem, with swollen veins in the anal canal causing pain and discomfort.

Causes

Hemorrhoids result from increased pressure in the veins of the anus. The pressure causes the veins to bulge and expand, making them painful – especially while sitting.

Risk Factors

Increased pressure leading to hemorrhoids can be caused by:

  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Constipation
  • Sitting for long periods of time
  • Anal infections
  • Other diseases, such as liver cirrhosis

Symptoms

  • Anal itching
  • Anal ache/pain when sitting or during bowel movements
  • Bright red blood on toilet paper, stool or in toilet
  • One or more hard, tender lumps near anus

Diagnostic Tests

A doctor can often diagnose hemorrhoids simply by examining the rectal area. If necessary, these tests may help diagnose the problem:

  • Stool guaiac (shows the presence of blood)
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • Anoscopy

Treatment

The following home treatments are helpful for reducing symptoms:

  • Over-the-counter corticosteroid creams to reduce pain/swelling
  • Hemorrhoid creams with lidocaine to reduce pain
  • Witch hazel to reduce itching
  • Stool softeners
  • Sitz baths (sit in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes)
  • Cotton undergarments
  • Toilet paper without perfumes or dyes

If these treatments prove ineffective, a doctor can apply heat treatment (infrared coagulation) to shrink internal hemorrhoids. If severe pain or bleeding persists, surgery may be necessary.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is it safe to remove hemorrhoids at home?
No, you should never pop a hemorrhoid or attempt to remove one on your own. Popping a hemorrhoid puts pressure on the blood vessel and may result in an open wound – and even serious bleeding. Instead, schedule a visit with your local gastroenterologist to find relief! 

How to get rid of hemorrhoids?
To treat hemorrhoids, consult your GI specialist. Here at Charleston GI, there’s no referral needed, so schedule your appointment today! We use non-invasive procedures, like hemorrhoid banding, to provide relief from even the most severe hemorrhoids. 

How long do hemorrhoids normally last? 
Because hemorrhoids vary in size and severity, there is no set duration. Small hemorrhoids may clear up on their own within a few days, while larger ones may persist and require treatment. If hemorrhoids have not resolved within a few days, it is best to visit your Charleston GI doctor.

Do hemorrhoids go away by themselves?
For small, minor hemorrhoids, symptoms often go away without treatment. Larger hemorrhoids, however, may cause serious discomfort and require treatment. Pregnant patients may find that their hemorrhoids go away on their own after their baby is delivered.

What do hemorrhoids look like?
Internal hemorrhoids are found inside the rectum and are often not visible. External hemorrhoids, on the other hand, are found around the anus, underneath the skin. They may appear like red lumps, accompanied by itching, burning, and pain.

What do hemorrhoids feel like?
Internal hemorrhoids seldom cause any discomfort, but you may notice some bleeding during bowel movements. External hemorrhoids, especially more severe ones, will likely cause burning, itching, swelling around the anus, bleeding or pain during bowel movements, and general discomfort. 

Do hemorrhoids itch?
In some cases, yes. Here’s why: Hemorrhoids may become dry or irritated, or even infected. Bleeding can also trigger itchiness.

Are hemorrhoids fungal? Can hemorrhoids be confused with a yeast infection?
Hemorrhoids, or “piles,” may cause itching and discomfort around the anus – and these symptoms are sometimes confused with those of a yeast infection. Both conditions may result in itching, tenderness, redness, and bleeding, but because hemorrhoids do not cause any sort of vaginal discharge, women are able to distinguish between the two.

Are hemorrhoids dangerous?
While hemorrhoids can be very painful, even the most severe cases will not endanger your life. If the blood supply is cut off from an internal hemorrhoid, a blood clot may form – and while draining is required, the clot is not dangerous.

Are hemorrhoids common? Is it normal to have hemorrhoids?
As it turns out, hemorrhoids are quite common in both men and women. About half of all people will experience a hemorrhoid by age 50. Hemorrhoids are also very common in women during pregnancy and childbirth. 

How are bleeding hemorrhoids treated? 
If you are experiencing bleeding, contact your GI doctor. If symptoms remain mild, your Charleston GI specialist may recommend the following: 

  • Incorporate more high-fiber foods into your diet, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 
  • Use topical treatments like over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams, suppositories containing hydrocortisone, or pads containing witch hazel or a numbing agent.
  • Soak regularly in a warm bath or sitz bath (10-15 minutes, two to three times each day).
  • Take oral pain relievers like acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen.

If symptoms worsen or do not go away within a week, call your gastroenterologist.

Can hemorrhoids bleed without a bowel movement? 
While most bleeding associated with hemorrhoids occurs during a bowel movement, it is possible to experience bleeding at other times. This may appear as bright pink spotting.

Can hemorrhoids cause constipation? 
No, but constipation may worsen hemorrhoid symptoms. 

Can hemorrhoids pop?
If a blood clot forms in an external hemorrhoid, you may notice a tender, hard lump outside your anus. If pressure continues to build, the hemorrhoid may burst.

What doctor do I see to help with hemorrhoids?
A board-certified gastroenterologist is specially trained to treat a wide variety of GI conditions, including hemorrhoids! For relief – and a higher standard of caring – schedule your appointment at Charleston GI today! No referral needed! 

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