There are specialized structures like blood vessels in and around the anal canal that can become swollen and irritated when extra pressure is placed on them. These naturally occurring structures present in all people are called hemorrhoids. When they become irritated, we call it hemorrhoidal disease.
Hemorrhoidal disease is very common. About half of all people experience symptoms by age 50.
Hemorrhoidal disease can be caused by:
- Straining during bowel movements
- A family history of hemorrhoids
- Long-term or chronic constipation or diarrhea
Symptoms of hemorrhoidal disease vary from person to person, but some common symptoms are:
- Bright red blood in stool, on toilet paper or in the toilet bowl
- Pain and irritation around the anus
- Swelling or a hard lump around the anus
The symptoms of hemorrhoids may look like other health problems, so it’s important to always consult a health provider for a diagnosis.
Hemorrhoids are very common, but you are more likely to get them if you:
- Are pregnant
- Sit on the toilet for too long
- Are obese
- Do things that make you strain more, like heavy lifting
- Have a family history of hemorrhoids
- Have long-term or chronic constipation or diarrhea
- Are between 45 and 65 years old
To diagnose hemorrhoids, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following exams:
- Physical exam
- Digital rectum examination – Used to examine the rectum and the prostate gland.
- Anoscopy – A physician uses a small lighted tube to view the anus and lower rectum.
- Proctoscopy – A doctor uses a lighted tube called a proctoscope to look at the inside of the anus and rectum, and a tissue sample may be taken if needed for evaluation (a biopsy).
- Sigmoidoscopy – A procedure that allows the doctor to examine the lower one-third of the large intestine.
- Colonoscopy – A procedure that allowed a physician to examine the entire length of the large intestine.
The gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons at Northwell Health will assess your condition and its cause in order to determine treatment options. The goal of hemorrhoid treatment is to reduce your symptoms. While medications or diet changes may be effective in treating hemorrhoids, there are cases where small procedures or surgery may be needed. As every case is different, it’s important to consult a physician to discuss the treatment options best for you.