Swollen veins in the lower portion of the rectum or anus that may be internal or external.
What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lower portion of the rectum or anus that may be internal (located inside the lower rectum) or external (under the skin around the anus).
Your doctor might be able to see external hemorrhoids on a visual exam. Diagnosing internal hemorrhoids might include examination of your anal canal and rectum. Hemorrhoids can also be diagnosed during a colonoscopy.
What causes hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are very common and occur for a variety of reasons. Often the exact cause is unknown; however, they can occur from:
- Straining to move your bowels
- Sitting too long on the toilet
- Pregnancy and childbirth
What are the signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids?
- Painless bleeding
- Itching or pain in the anal region
- Protrusion of internal hemorrhoid through the anus
- Leaking or seepage of stool, soiling
Treatment options and prevention
In many cases, treating hemorrhoids involves steps you can take on your own. If home remedies are not effective or if hemorrhoids are bothersome, bleed excessively or have fallen outside the anus (prolapsed), your doctor may recommend medications, hemorrhoid banding, or surgery.
- More fiber: Eat more fresh fruits, leafy vegetables, and whole-grain breads and cereals and drink 6-8 glasses of water every day. Your doctor may also recommend a fiber supplement.
- Good hygiene: Cleanse the anal area gently after each bowel movement. Avoid excessive wiping
- Comfort measures: Consider cold packs, tub baths or warm soaks (warm sitz bath)
- Avoid long periods of standing or sitting
- Avoid straining
- Go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge
Your doctor might suggest over-the-counter creams, ointments, suppositories, or pads. These products contain ingredients such as witch hazel, or hydrocortisone and lidocaine, which can temporarily relieve pain and itching.
Hemorrhoid banding is a safe, painless procedure in which the hemorrhoid is tied off at the base with a rubber band, cutting off the blood flow to the hemorrhoid causing it to shrink and fall off within 1-2 weeks. This type of treatment can only be done for internal hemorrhoids.
This procedure requires no prep and is completed at one of the clinics at MNGI Digestive Health. Most patients require 3 treatments.
Surgery is an option for external hemorrhoids. The physicians at MNGI Digestive Health do not perform surgery but can refer you to a surgeon.
When to seek medical advice
See your doctor if your hemorrhoids don’t improve with self-care, are bothersome, cause pain or bleed frequently or excessively.
American Gastroenterological Association