Hemorrhoids are a common ailment, affecting both men and women. It’s estimated that hemorrhoids affect about 1 in 20 Americans. 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 symptoms of hemorrhoids and when to be concerned.
What are hemorrhoids?
For a background understanding of hemorrhoid symptoms, you first have to understand what hemorrhoids are. 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.
Who is likely to get hemorrhoids?
Those who have or are likely to develop hemorrhoids can often share some lifestyle factors such as:
· Straining during bowl 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
· Are pregnant
There are some common symptoms associated with hemorrhoids, which include painless bleeding during bowel movements, itching or irritation around the anal region, swelling around the anus, pain of discomfort in that general area, a sensitive raised area near the anus. These symptoms may change depending on the location of the hemorrhoid.
There are some other conditions with symptoms similar to hemorrhoids that can a larger risk to your health.
· Colon tumors (which can be cancerous)
· Anal fissures
· Colon polyps
· Inflammatory Bowel Disease such as Crohn’s disease
When to see a Hemorrhoid 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 using a visual inspection with a scope or a rectal exam. You doctor may recommend a home remedy like a topic cream and using over-the-counter pain relievers. If those treatments don’t suffice, your doctor may recommend a minimally invasive procedure to remove your hemorrhoids. If these procedures are still not successful, your doctor may turn to a surgical procedure, most of which can be don’t 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
· Losing weight
· 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.