Sitting on the toilet for long periods of time, straining during bowel movements, and chronic constipation can all put pressure on the veins in the lower rectum and anus. This pressure can inhibit the flow of blood, causing veins to bulge and swell. Hemorrhoids are a result of this swelling.
There are two types of hemorrhoids: internal and external. Internal hemorrhoids occur in the lower rectum and cannot be seen. Because the lower rectum lacks pain receptors, these types of hemorrhoids are usually painless but can sometimes produce bleeding. Even if an internal hemorrhoid bleeds, it still does not usually cause pain.
External hemorrhoids develop under the skin surrounding the anus. These types of hemorrhoids are very uncomfortable because the overlying skin becomes irritated and erodes. Patients can experience itching, bleeding, swelling, and severe pain with external hemorrhoids.
A physical exam and health history report are usually enough to diagnose a hemorrhoid. External hemorrhoids are apparent and your Ogden Clinic doctor can usually find them quickly. Other tests may accompany a hemorrhoid diagnosis such as a digital rectal exam to check for blood in the stool, or an anoscope exam wherein a short plastic tube is inserted into the rectum for a closer view.
In some cases, your Ogden Clinic gastroenterologist may conduct a flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy so he can rule out other causes of rectal bleeding such as polyps or cancer (particularly if you are over age 50).
There are several ways to prevent new hemorrhoids, such as getting enough dietary fiber to keep your bowel movements regular. Exercise is also recommended to stimulate bowel function. When you do have a bowel movement, take your time and try not to strain as this can cause hemorrhoids.
If you’re experiencing a painful hemorrhoid, topical medications are available in drugstores to temporarily soothe pain. However, some hemorrhoids cannot be managed with conservative treatments alone. Ogden Clinic gastroenterologists see patients with painful hemorrhoids often and treat them with a few different methods such as rubber band ligation or hemorrhoidectomy (removal of the hemorrhoid). The first step to relief is scheduling an appointment with an Ogden Clinic gastroenterologist. Call our office or request an appointment online.