Hemorrhoids and What To Do About Them

Hemorrhoids are sometimes described as varicose veins in the lower rectum or anus. They're very common, and almost three out of four adults will have them at some point during their lives. Hemorrhoids can be internal or external. Internal hemorrhoids are swollen veins that develop inside the rectum. External hemorrhoids are swollen veins under the skin around the anus.

You can experience differing symptoms depending on the location of your hemorrhoids. Signs and symptoms of external hemorrhoids can include:

  • Irritation and itching in and around your anus

  • Pain and discomfort

  • Swelling around your anus

  • Bleeding

  • Sensitive lumps in your anal area

Unlike external hemorrhoids, internal hemorrhoids usually can't be seen, and often don't cause obvious symptoms until or unless you're having a bowel movement.

Why do I have blood on the toilet paper after wiping?

If you've noticed bright red blood in the toilet or on toilet paper after a bowel movement, it may be from an internal hemorrhoid. Hemorrhoids can cause bright red blood during bowel movements. Blood on toilet paper may also result from an anal fissure, a small tear in the lining of your anus.

Why am I experiencing rectal bleeding without pain?

Bleeding in your lower gastrointestinal tract, including the lower colon and rectum, can occur without pain. Hemorrhoids are the most common cause of painless rectal bleeding, but don’t presume this to be THE diagnosis. You should speak with your doctor if you have painful, itching hemorrhoids or rectal bleeding without pain. Rectal bleeding can have other causes, including anal cancer and colorectal cancer.

Can a colonoscopy distinguish hemorrhoids from colon cancer?

A colonoscopy uses an endoscope, a flexible tube that guides a fiber optic camera through your colon. A colonoscopy can quickly discover any internal hemorrhoids and other problems including colon cancer. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins, and doctors can immediately distinguish between them, anal fissures, colon polyps, or colon cancer.

Colon polyps are growths in the lining of your colon that can be an indication you could be at risk from colon cancer. They can be quickly and easily removed during a colonoscopy.

A colonoscopy is one of several tests that can uncover the reason you've experienced rectal bleeding. The first, simplest test is a rectal examination. You can't see the inside of your rectum easily, but a clinician can.

Other tests include an anoscopy and a sigmoidoscopy. These are minimally invasive tests that don't require you to be sedated. A colonoscopy is a more extensive procedure and requires sedation.

If you do need a colonoscopy, your Digestive Health Associates of Texas can perform one. It's a simple procedure which lasts about two hours. The test can remove polyps and other potentially abnormal tissue that the colonoscopy scope sees during the procedure.

What should I do if I have hemorrhoids?

If you experience any rectal bleeding, you should contact your doctor. If you know you've had hemorrhoids before and experience itching and swelling in your anal area, your hemorrhoids may be acting up. There are health risks associated with hemorrhoids, as common as they are. Internal hemorrhoids can prolapse or protrude from your anus. Blood can also pool in a hemorrhoid and thrombose -- the medical term for a blood clot.

Are there things I can do to help my hemorrhoids?

One of the best things you can do if you have hemorrhoids is improve your bowel habits. Don't avoid going to the bathroom: use it when you need it. Hemorrhoids can result from sitting on the toilet for long periods, so it's wise to avoid reading while in the bathroom. Sit only as long as you need to, and wipe gently with unscented toilet paper or cleansing wipes. While scent in toilet paper and wipes can cover unpleasant bathroom odors, fragrance can irritate your skin: the last thing you need if you have hemorrhoids.

Hemorrhoids are associated with constipation, which is the reason why clinicians tell people to get more fiber in their diet. High-fiber foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain breads, and wheat bran. Drinking enough water is also important to help prevent constipation.

Getting enough exercise is also important to improve or prevent constipation. Getting at least half an hour a day of moderate exercise could help you to improve or prevent hemorrhoids.

For a hemorrhoid flare-up, you can also take a sitz bath, which means sitting in a few inches of warm, not hot, bath water. Soaking for ten minutes can relieve itching and burning that accompanies hemorrhoids. A well-insulated ice pack can also reduce swelling and pain. Always make sure you have a cloth barrier between the ice pack and your skin to prevent skin damage.

You can locate over-the-counter topical treatment creams that can reduce itching and swelling. Other treatments are also available, including hydrocortisone suppositories. Mild astringents like witch hazel can also relieve hemorrhoid burning and itching. You can reduce short-term pain with oral pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Hemorrhoids can be treated, and DHAT can help

A colonoscopy may not be essential to diagnose hemorrhoids, but it can determine if you have hemorrhoids, colon polyps, colon cancer, or other problems in your lower digestive tract. Colonoscopies are simple procedures. According to iData Research, approximately 19 million colonoscopies are performed in the U.S. every year.

Colonoscopies are non-invasive, safe medical procedures. They can help to determine the health of your lower digestive tract. DHAT is experienced in performing colonoscopies. They can schedule a colonoscopy for you and are glad to explain how you can prepare for the procedure, how it will be conducted, and the results you can expect to obtain.

You may not need any surgery for hemorrhoids, but it you do, DHAT can also perform procedures that can reduce the pain and discomfort of hemorrhoids and help you return to a pain and itch-free life. Bowel movements aren't the most pleasant topic, but they're a part of life for everyone. Don't let hemorrhoids interfere with your comfort, your career, or an active, healthy lifestyle.

About half of people over age 50 experience problems with hemorrhoids. You may not have known, but everyone has hemorrhoids; which are technically areas of blood vessels which form a cushion in our anal canals. However, we only become aware of these blood vessels if they cause problems by becoming swollen, irritated, or bleeding. If you see blood in your bowel movement or on toilet tissue, contact your doctor. Hemorrhoids are easily treated, and a colonoscopy can also help to protect you from other conditions in addition to hemorrhoids.

If you do need a colonoscopy, your DHAT doctor can schedule and perform one for you. It’s a relatively simple, out-patient procedure that in most cases will take only a couple hours of your day. And during the procedure, your doctor can remove any polyps or other potentially abnormal tissue for further testing. To meet with a DHAT physician near you, make an appointment online, or call 1.800.818.8541.