Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in the anus and lower rectum. The anus and rectum are the last part of your large intestine and are responsible for holding and eliminating stool.
Pressure and stretching of the tissue in your rectum and anus cause the blood vessels to stretch, expand, and weaken. Over time, the continued pressure causes the blood vessels to protrude.
Many factors contribute to the pressure that leads to hemorrhoids, such as constipation, straining during a bowel movement, and spending too much time sitting on the toilet.
What are the types of hemorrhoids?
The location of your hemorrhoids determines the type and symptoms. Types of hemorrhoids include:
External hemorrhoids: External hemorrhoids occur underneath the sensitive tissue in the anus. These types of hemorrhoids may itch or burn. It is possible to develop a blood clot in external hemorrhoids — a thrombosed hemorrhoid, causing sudden, intense pain that makes it hard to sit.
Internal hemorrhoids: Internal hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in the rectum. These hemorrhoids cause painless rectal bleeding. Internal hemorrhoids may prolapse, or protrude. Prolapsed hemorrhoids cause severe pain.
When should I seek help for my hemorrhoids?
Seek help for your hemorrhoids if they cause any type of bleeding or severe pain. Though hemorrhoids are the most common cause of minor rectal bleeding, colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may also cause this symptom.
You should also seek help for your hemorrhoids if your at-home treatments fail to relieve your symptoms within a week.
During a hemorrhoid evaluation, the NVG team reviews your symptoms, usual diet and bathroom habits, and medical history. They also examine your hemorrhoids.
What treatments can improve my hemorrhoids?
Treatment can improve your hemorrhoids. NVG may first recommend non-medical interventions such as:
- Adding more fiber and fluid to your diet
- Using a stool softener
- Limiting the amount of time you spend sitting on the toilet
- Soaking your hemorrhoids in a sitz bath
- Using over-the-counter (OTC) hemorrhoid creams or pads
If conservative care fails to ease your hemorrhoid symptoms, the team may suggest procedures such as rubber band ligation, infrared coagulation, or sclerotherapy. In severe cases, the team may recommend surgical removal of your hemorrhoid.