Approximately 1 in 20 Americans — including half of those over age 50 — develop hemorrhoids. They form when veins in or near your anus or rectum become inflamed and swollen because of too much pressure.
Hemorrhoids may not be a life-threatening problem, but they can cause bleeding, irritation, and discomfort, depending on their size and location. And they may not go away on their own.
Here’s what you should know about this common issue and when to seek medical care.
A hemorrhoid can form internally or externally. Several things can put too much pressure on these veins in your anal and rectal area, such as:
Hemorrhoids also become increasingly common with age as supporting tissue in your anus and rectum loses strength.
Signs of a hemorrhoid vary, depending on its severity and location. For instance, external hemorrhoids often cause pain and itching. However, internal hemorrhoids typically cause rectal pain, itching, tenderness, burning, or the sensation you’re passing tissue during a bowel movement.
You can also have hemorrhoids that don’t cause symptoms at all.
Fortunately, hemorrhoids often respond to home-care treatments. As a first line of defense, Dr. Forgione-Rubino often recommends:
And, while tempting, it’s important to avoid scratching, squeezing, or popping any bumps or lumps in the area. Similarly, using too many laxatives and overwiping your anus can increase irritation and worsen your symptoms.
If your symptoms persist, it’s time to see a doctor, especially if you have bleeding that doesn’t stop. While rectal bleeding is a common sign of hemorrhoids, it can also occur because of other issues, from diverticulosis and ulcerative colitis to Crohn’s disease and colorectal cancer.
In most cases, hemorrhoids should respond to home-care treatments within a week. However, if you don’t notice an improvement or have recurring problems, it’s time to see an expert.
Dr. Forgione-Rubino can confirm the presence of hemorrhoids by discussing your symptoms, reviewing your medical history, and performing a physical examination. Based on her assessment, she may recommend additional forms of treatment, like prescription medications or surgery to resolve your hemorrhoid issue.
If your hemorrhoids require surgical treatment, Dr. Forgione-Rubino suggests two approaches: rubber band ligation or hemorrhoidectomy.
Dr. Forgione-Rubino performs this procedure on-site. It uses a rubber band to cut off the blood supply to your hemorrhoid. This causes the troublesome vein to dry out and fall off.
A hemorrhoidectomy takes place in a surgical suite. During this treatment, Dr. Forgione-Rubino removes the tissue to resolve your symptoms. This option is the most effective for severe or recurring hemorrhoids.
Dr. Forgione-Rubino recommends treatment methods on a case-by-case basis.
Do you have troublesome hemorrhoids? Schedule a consultation by calling Dr. Forgione-Rubino or requesting an appointment online today.