What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen and inflamed veins in or around the rectum or anus that can cause discomfort, itching and bleeding. They are very common, affecting around 1 in 20 people in the United States alone. There are two types of hemorrhoids: internal and external. Internal hemorrhoids form in the lining of the anus and rectum, while external ones form under the skin around the opening of the anus and may cause pain.
Symptoms depend on the location of the hemorrhoids.
- External hemorrhoid symptoms may include itching or irritation in the anal area, lumps and pain and discomfort when sitting. Straining during a bowel movement and wiping the area can aggravate symptoms.
- Internal hemorrhoids symptoms include bleeding from the rectum, and prolapse, when the hemorrhoid falls through the anus, during defecation. They are not usually painful or uncomfortable unless they prolapse.
Hemorrhoids are caused by putting excessive pressure on the veins around the anus due to: straining during bowel movements, sitting for long periods of time on the toilet, chronic constipation, a low-fiber diet, pregnancy, and aging, and lifting heavy objects frequently.
Your Gastroenterology Associates of Brooklyn clinician will ask about your medical history and perform a physical exam including a digital rectal exam which involves inserting a gloved finger into the rectum. External hemorrhoids will be obvious upon visual inspection, but a digital exam will help rule out internal hemorrhoids. A comprehensive exam with a flexible sigmoidoscopy can be used to evaluate the lining of the anus and rectum to evaluate these tissues for hemorrhoids, anal fissures which commonly occur along with hemorrhoids, and to identify other anorectal issues.
Hemorrhoid treatments vary depending on the severity of the condition, but may include lifestyle changes, such as increasing dietary fiber intake and drinking more water to soften stools. Over-the-counter topical creams or ointments may be used to reduce swelling and itching. If these measures don’t work, a doctor may suggest other treatments such as CRH rubber band ligation. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary.
Although hemorrhoids can cause significant discomfort, they are usually not dangerous and often resolve on their own with home treatment. If you are experiencing any symptoms of hemorrhoids, it’s important to consult your doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Hemorrhoids are common and seldom require surgical treatments. Most patients can be treated in the gastroenterologist’s office.
For more information about hemorrhoids, please contact us to schedule an appointment to receive the correct diagnosis, address your concern and learn about all your treatment options. At Gastroenterology Associates of Brooklyn we offer state of the art diagnosis and treatments developed technology to treat hemorrhoids with better imaging and control for your comfort and efficacy.