Learn everything you need to know about hemorrhoids—including causes, treatment, how long they last, and whether they heal on their own Hemorrhoids (sometimes called piles) are swollen or dilated veins that form in the rectum or anus. External hemorrhoids develop under the skin of the anus, while internal hemorrhoids form deep in the lining of the rectum and anus. By age 50,
Hemorrhoids (sometimes called piles) are swollen or dilated veins that form in the rectum or anus. External hemorrhoids develop under the skin of the anus, while internal hemorrhoids form deep in the lining of the rectum and anus.
By age 50, more than half of men and women will have hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are not life-threatening and are usually the leading cause of rectal bleeding. Symptoms may include itching, pain, and swelling. Some people with hemorrhoids are asymptomatic.
This article will examine the symptoms and causes of hemorrhoids, how long they last, and treatment options if they don't go away on their own.
Hemorrhoids are a collection of swollen veins found under the skin of the anus or in the rectum lining. They are caused by pressure due to pregnancy, obesity, a sedentary life with minimal exercise, or straining during a bowel movement.
External hemorrhoids form under the skin near the anus and can be itchy and painful. Acute pain can occur if a blood clot develops inside an external hemorrhoid (thrombosis). You may feel a small bump around the anus, which may be a deep purple color. Once the blood clot dissolves, the stretched-out skin or skin tag may itch or feel irritated.
Internal hemorrhoids are located in the lining of the lower rectum and anus. They are often painless and may bleed—the blood will appear bright red on toilet paper, in the toilet bowl, or on the stool's surface. Internal hemorrhoids can be problematic if they prolapse (extend outside the anus) and cause severe pain.
Although some people who have hemorrhoids may be asymptomatic, about 5% of them will experience symptoms.
External hemorrhoids may be painful and itchy. Symptoms of internal hemorrhoids may include bleeding from the rectum, itching, pain or soreness in the rectal area, or the sensation of evacuating tissue when having a bowel movement.
If you have prolapsed internal hemorrhoids, symptoms may include pain, itchiness, and a burning sensation.
Hemorrhoids form around the anus when there’s too much pressure on the veins. Common causes may include:
How long hemorrhoids last depends on the individual. The reduced pressure on the veins in the anus and rectum will clear up for pregnant women soon after the baby is born. Dietary changes and lifestyle habits (losing weight and exercising) can also help clear up small hemorrhoids within a short period.
Be aware, though, that hemorrhoids may recur if you reduce your fiber and liquid intakes, become sedentary, gain excessive weight, and develop chronic constipation or diarrhea.
Various treatments exist for external and internal hemorrhoids. They range from home remedies to medication.
If you have hemorrhoid discomfort, several home remedies may help. In addition to eating more fiber-rich foods and drinking more fluids to ease bowel movements, other home remedies include:
Medication for hemorrhoids includes creams, anesthetics, and steroids to alleviate pain, itchiness, and swelling temporarily. Additionally, venotonic therapies, which promote drainage in a vein, such as oral flavonoid medication, may help with any bleeding. These medications have anti-inflammatory effects, increase vascular tone, help with lymphatic drainage, and provide other benefits to relieve common hemorrhoid symptoms.
Hemorrhoids can be very uncomfortable and itchy, but try to avoid the following:
If you don’t have any relief of your symptoms after a week of treating your hemorrhoids with home remedies or OTC medication, or the bleeding doesn’t stop, make an appointment to see your healthcare provider.
To confirm you have hemorrhoids, your healthcare provider will discuss your medical history and conduct a physical examination around the area of your anus to diagnose if you have external hemorrhoids. They may also perform a digital exam or an anoscopy (using a scoping devide to examine the anal canal and rectum) to determine if you have internal hemorrhoids.
Your healthcare provider may recommend other forms of medicinal therapies or surgery that cut the blood supply to the vein to shrink the hemorrhoids.
Rectal bleeding is a common symptom of hemorrhoids, but other conditions can cause bleeding, as well. These include:
Hemorrhoids (external and internal) are a common condition that impacts many people. Symptoms may include itching, pain, swelling, and rectal bleeding. The cause of hemorrhoids includes straining during a bowel movement, pregnancy, a low-fiber diet, and chronic constipation or diarrhea. There are at-home remedies that may relieve some of the discomfort. If the symptoms don't subside in a week, speak with your healthcare provider.
Hemorrhoids can be uncomfortable and painful, but they’re not a serious condition. Many people who have hemorrhoids find relief through home remedies and lifestyle changes. However, if you are experiencing heavy rectal bleeding, it’s always wise to have your healthcare provider confirm hemorrhoids and not another condition that requires immediate attention.
External hemorrhoids form under the skin of the anus and appear like red bumps. If a blood clot forms in the vein, the bump will be purple in color and painful to touch. Internal hemorrhoids are found deep in the lining of the rectum and anus. These typically can’t be seen or felt.
External hemorrhoids feel like hard bumps that are tender to the touch. They may itch and be painful when you sit. Internal hemorrhoids, because they’re deep in the lining for the rectum and anus, can’t be felt.
Hemorrhoids may bleed a little after you’ve had a bowel movement due to the pressure. If your hemorrhoids bleed often, stain your underwear, or you notice a lot of blood in the toilet, contact your healthcare provider.
Yes, hemorrhoids can recur. The best way to avoid developing hemorrhoids is to eat a fiber-rich diet that includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, get plenty of fluids, and become more active.