Hemorrhoids are a common ailment, affecting both men and women. It’s estimated that around 10 million Americans experience hemorrhoids every year. Hemorrhoids are a relatively harmless, treatable issue, but sometimes symptoms that appear to be a simple case of hemorrhoids can be indicative of other, more serious conditions. Sometimes these conditions are dangerous and even life-threatening, so it’s important to understand the typical symptoms of hemorrhoids versus when to be concerned.
What Are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are characterized by inflamed veins surrounding the anus or lower rectum. There are two main types of hemorrhoids:
External hemorrhoids: Form under the skin around the anus
Internal hemorrhoids: Form in the lining of the lower rectum or anus.
Risk Factors For Hemorrhoids?
Those who have or are likely to develop hemorrhoids can often share some lifestyle risk factors such as:
Straining during bowel movements
Eating a diet low in fiber
Have chronic constipation or diarrhea
Sitting for long periods of time
Are older the 50 years of age
Lift heavy objects
There are some common symptoms associated with hemorrhoids, include painless bleeding during bowel movements, itching or irritation around the anal region, swelling around the anus, pain or discomfort in the general area, and a sensitive raised area near the anus. These symptoms may change depending on the location of the hemorrhoid.
There are some other conditions with similar symptoms of hemorrhoids that can be a larger risk to your health.
Colon tumors (which can be cancerous)
Inflammatory Bowel Disease such as Crohn’s disease
When To See A Hemorrhoids Specialist
Complications associated with hemorrhoids are rare, but it’s best to see a doctor if you exhibit any of the above symptoms for a prolonged period of time and are concerned you may have one of the aforementioned conditions. You should also see a doctor if you are experiencing blood during bowel movements. Don’t assume that this bleeding is simply a sign of hemorrhoids, especially if you are over 40 years of age; your bleeding could be a sign of something more dangerous, such as colorectal cancer. Call a hemorrhoid doctor at the first signs of pain or bleeding near the anus.
Once other diseases or conditions are ruled out and your doctor diagnoses you with hemorrhoids, they may recommend a home remedy like a topic cream or using over-the-counter pain relievers. If those treatments don’t suffice, your doctor may recommend a minimally invasive procedure to remove your hemorrhoids, most of which can be done as an outpatient experience.
Once you’ve been treated for hemorrhoids, most doctors will suggest lifestyle changes to prevent hemorrhoids in the future. These include:
Eating a high-fiber diet of vegetables and whole grains
Avoiding dry or rough toilet paper
Treatment for any inflammatory bowel diseases
Drinking more water
Remember that it’s best to check with your doctor at the first signs of hemorrhoids in case your symptoms are indicative of another issue. To see one of our colorectal specialists about your symptoms of hemorrhoids, please call us today or book an appointment.