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What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels inside your rectum (internal hemorrhoids) or on your anus (external hemorrhoids). Sometimes a hemorrhoid may prolapse, which means it extends out of your anus.

What increases my risk for hemorrhoids?

  • Frequent or prolonged straining during bowel movements
  • Increased pressure in your abdomen
  • Weak skin around the rectum and anus

What are the signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids?

  • Itching around your anus
  • Pain inside your rectum or around your anus
  • Bright red blood in your bowel movement, on the toilet paper, or in the toilet bowl
  • Tissue bulging out of your anus
  • Discharge of a thick fluid from your anus
  • Incontinence (poor control over urine or bowel movements)
  • Inflammation around your anus

How are hemorrhoids diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, your diet, and your bowel movements. You may need the following:

  • A digital rectal exam is a test to check for hemorrhoids. Your healthcare provider will put a gloved finger inside your anus to feel for the hemorrhoids.
  • An anoscopy is a test that uses a scope (small tube with a light and camera on the end) to look at your hemorrhoids.

How are hemorrhoids treated?

  • Medicines can help decrease pain and swelling, and soften your bowel movement. The medicine may be a pill, pad, cream, or ointment.
  • Surgery may be needed to shrink or remove your hemorrhoids.

How can I manage my symptoms?

  • Apply ice on your anus for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Take a sitz bath. Fill a bathtub with 4 to 6 inches of warm water. You may also use a sitz bath pan that fits over a toilet. Sit in the sitz bath for 20 minutes. Do this 2 to 3 times a day, or as directed. The warm water can help decrease pain and swelling. 
  • Keep your anal area clean. Gently wash the area with warm water daily. Soap may irritate the area. After a bowel movement, wipe with moist towelettes or wet toilet paper. Dry toilet paper can irritate the area.

How can I help prevent hemorrhoids?

  • Do not strain to have a bowel movement or sit on the toilet too long.
  • Prevent constipation and soften your bowel movement. Exercise, such as walking, may make it easier to have a bowel movement. Drink liquids as directed. Ask how much liquid to drink each day and which liquids are best for you. Eat a variety of high fiber foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

  • Avoid anal sex. It can weaken the skin around your rectum and anus.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have severe pain in your rectum or around your anus.
  • You have bleeding from your anus that does not stop.

When should I contact my healthcare provider?

  • You have frequent and painful bowel movements.
  • You see blood in the toilet bowl or on the toilet paper after a bowel movement.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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