What are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins located in the anus and lower rectum. They can form inside of the rectum (internal hemorrhoids) or under the skin surrounding the anus (external hemorrhoids).
The symptoms associated with hemorrhoids differ depending on the type of hemorrhoid. External hemorrhoids may cause pain, discomfort or itching around the anus, as well as swelling or bleeding. Blood can also pool in an external hemorrhoid forming a clot, or thrombosed hemorrhoids. These can cause severe pain, swelling, inflammation or a hard bump near the anus.
Internal hemorrhoids are located inside of the rectum, so you cannot see or feel them. However, when you strain to pass stool, it can cause bleeding. An internal hemorrhoid that pushes through the anal opening (prolapse) may cause pain or irritation.
What Causes Hemorrhoids?
Straining can put pressure on the veins in the anus or rectum, resulting in hemorrhoids. Common situations that may cause straining include pelvic pressure from weight gain or pregnancy, constipation which causes straining during bowel movements or lifting heavy objects. Individuals who sit or stand for long periods of time also have a greater risk for developing hemorrhoids.
How are Hemorrhoids Diagnosed?
During your appointment, your doctor will speak with you regarding your symptoms as well as perform a physical examination. External hemorrhoids will be visible during an exam, however, internal hemorrhoids will not. Your doctor may perform a digital examination to feel for internal hemorrhoids or unusual growths.
Treatment Options for Hemorrhoids
While some hemorrhoids will go away on their own, others may be stubborn and long-lasting. Depending on the specific type of hemorrhoid, your doctor may recommend the following treatment options:
Mild symptoms can often be remedied within a week by eating high-fiber foods, using over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams, taking pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and soaking regularly in warm baths.
Over-the-counter creams, ointments, pads or suppositories can be helpful in treating mild discomfort. These products are made with witch hazel, lidocaine or hydrocortisone to temporarily relieve itching and pain.
For stubborn or painful hemorrhoids, there are minimally-invasive procedures that may be performed to remove or shrink the hemorrhoids. These may include rubber band ligation to cut off the hemorrhoid’s circulation, sclerotherapy to shrink the hemorrhoid tissue or coagulation to shrivel small internal hemorrhoids.
If other treatment options have not been effective or if you have large hemorrhoids, surgery may be an option. Hemorrhoidectomy is the most effective option and completely removes the hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoid stapling is another option in which the blood flow to internal hemorrhoids is cut off, and prolapsed hemorrhoids are moved back into place.
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At South Denver GI, our team of physicians and advanced practice providers have the expertise to provide you with outstanding care. If you would like to learn more about Hemorrhoids or need to schedule an appointment at our office, contact us today!
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