Hemorrhoids—also known as piles— are swollen veins located in the lower rectum and anus. These veins swell due to pressure, which causes them to become irritated and stretched during a bowel movement. Hemorrhoids are the most common cause of rectal bleeding and often go away on their own. Although hemorrhoids can be unpleasant and painful, they are easily treated and very preventable.
Multiple sources conclude that about 50 percent of adults experience hemorrhoid symptoms by age 50, that the condition is common among those between ages 45 and 65, and more common in men than women. In addition, women are more likely to experience hemorrhoids during pregnancy. It should be noted, however, that anyone can develop hemorrhoids, including children and adults in optimal health.
Hemorrhoids are referred to by location: internal and external. Internal hemorrhoids are usually painless, as they are located deeply enough in the rectum where there are fewer pain-sensitive nerves. As a result, they cannot be seen or felt (though they may slip down and protrude outside the anus). Otherwise, they are apparent only with bleeding during a bowel movement.
External hemorrhoids visibly surround the anus and can be felt as lumps. If they swell significantly, they can lead to thrombosis (clotting of blood), which makes symptoms worse, particularly the pain.
There are several factors that might increase your risk of getting hemorrhoids. For instance, you may be more likely to experience hemorrhoids if other family members, like your parents, have had them. The primary cause of hemorrhoids is increased pressure in the lower abdomen. This can be the result of the following:
Signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids usually depend on the type of hemorrhoid, and will vary from person to person. Some of the most common symptoms include:
If you ever have bloody or black, tarry bowel movements, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately. Symptoms such as bleeding may be caused by a more serious condition than hemorrhoids and should be evaluated further.
A visual examination of your anus may be enough to diagnose hemorrhoids. However, to confirm the diagnosis, your doctor may check for abnormalities within the anus using a digital rectal exam. During this exam, your doctor will insert a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum. In addition your doctor may order one of more of the following endoscopic tests:
During these tests, a small tube with a camera on the end is then inserted into your anus, rectum, or colon (depending on the test). This allows your doctor to get a clear view of the area, determine whether hemorrhoids are present, and provide a more accurate diagnosis.
There are many ways to effectively treat hemorrhoids. Medications for mild cases of hemorrhoids include over-the-counter creams or suppositories to relieve pain and itching, as well as laxatives when indicated. However, patients should consult a physician for any extended use of these products.
In addition, there are preventive lifestyle measures patients can take, such as having a diet with sufficient fiber, drinking plenty of water, and getting regular exercise.
At Digestive Healthcare Center (DHC), our physicians specialize in various treatment techniques for managing hemorrhoids, including a non-surgical technique known as hemorrhoidal banding. This procedure ties off the hemorrhoids to cut off the blood flow painlessly. Hemorrhoidal banding is a minimally-invasive treatment for hemorrhoids in NJ, and takes fewer than 10 minutes per session.
Hemorrhoids are a very common occurrence, and if you are experiencing uncomfortable or concerning hemorrhoid symptoms, our team of gastroenterology specialists will work to help you find relief. We provide hemorrhoidal banding services at our three gastroenterology centers in NJ, giving those in the area convenient access to comprehensive gastroenterology care. To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment, please contact us today.
Digestive Healthcare Center is proud to offer patients a wide range of gastroenterology services for all manner of digestive health conditions. Through years of experience and a commitment to excellence, our gastroenterologists in Somerset County strive to meet the needs of each patient and deliver the best possible outcome.