If you’re worried about your hemorrhoids, you’re in good company. Medical researchers estimate at least three-quarters of American adults get hemorrhoids.
But not all hemorrhoids are the same. Some resolve on their own with at-home care, while others require medical intervention.
At Digestive Disease Care with offices in Babylon, Lake Success, East Setauket, Mineola, Jericho, Forest Hills, Jamaica, and New Hyde Park, New York, our gastroenterology and hepatology specialists diagnose and treat all types of hemorrhoids.
We’ve created this guide to help you better understand hemorrhoids and when it’s time to seek medical help.
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in your anus or rectum. Blood pooling in these veins causes them to stretch and expand into the tissues near your anal opening.
You get hemorrhoids by doing anything that puts pressure or strains on your rectum or anus. This makes these veins dilate (get bigger), which lets in more blood. Common behaviors increase your risk of getting hemorrhoids, including:
Getting older also increases your risk of having hemorrhoids, since your anal and rectal tissues lose elasticity and strength with age.
The two main types are internal and external hemorrhoids. Some people have combined hemorrhoids, which means they have both internal and external hemorrhoids. Here’s a closer look:
When you have hemorrhoids inside your rectum, they’re called internal hemorrhoids. These hemorrhoids aren’t usually painful, but they can make you feel like you need to have a bowel movement or have a full rectum.
The main symptom of internal hemorrhoids is bleeding, but you can also have mucusy discharge. Most of the time, internal hemorrhoids aren’t serious and often resolve on their own.
Sometimes, however, an internal hemorrhoid becomes prolapsed. With a prolapsed internal hemorrhoid, the hemorrhoid bulges out of your rectum, causing discomfort when sitting, going to the bathroom, and doing physical activities.
It’s important to see a provider with this type of hemorrhoid since they increase your risk of getting heavy bleeding, clotting, or vein strangulation (cutting off of the blood supply).
External hemorrhoids develop around your anus instead of inside your rectum. Since this area is very sensitive, you’re more likely to have noticeable symptoms with external hemorrhoids, including:
You might also be able to feel an external hemorrhoid, or see them with a mirror. They usually look like lumps or bumps of extra skin.
It’s possible to get a blood clot in the vein associated with your external hemorrhoid. This condition is called thrombosis. In addition to causing intense pain, thrombosed hemorrhoids trigger:
Be sure to schedule an appointment with a Digestive Disease Care provider if you’re worried about a thrombosed hemorrhoid, as they cause an increased risk of infection.
If you’re experiencing rectal bleeding and suspect you have internal hemorrhoids, be sure to see a team member at Digestive Disease Care. Other conditions also trigger similar symptoms, including serious diseases.
In addition, if you have external hemorrhoids and can’t get relief from over-the-counter treatments and at-home therapies, it’s time to schedule an appointment. In both cases, a specialist gives you personalized treatment recommendations to help you heal faster and ease your discomfort.
Your Digestive Disease Care provider reviews your medical history, discusses your symptoms with you, and conducts a comprehensive exam to determine the type, size, and location of your hemorrhoids before creating a customized treatment plan.
Most of the time, our providers recommend conservative treatments first, such as:
Your provider may also recommend a therapy called hemorrhoid ligation. This procedure offers an alternative to surgery for both internal and external hemorrhoids and involves cutting off the hemorrhoid’s blood supply using a rubber band.
Without a steady supply of blood, the hemorrhoid shrinks and eventually falls off. The in-office treatment only takes minutes to perform, and you can return to your normal activities right away.
If you’re struggling with hemorrhoids, get personalized care by scheduling an appointment online or over the phone with a provider at one of the many Digestive Disease Care locations in New York.