Although most cases of hemorrhoids are mild and can be treated with home care, sometimes they need professional attention. Here are some tips on deciding when to treat at home and when to see your doctor.
Symptoms of a mild condition
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in and around the anus and rectum, very similar in nature to the varicose veins
commonly seen in the legs. Only around 5% of individuals with hemorrhoids experience troubling symptoms. The most common symptom of a mild condition is seeing a few drops of bright red blood after a bowel movement. The blood may be visible in the toilet, streaked on the stool itself, or simply apparent on the toilet paper. Other symptoms may include:
- Itching and irritation around the anus
- A small lump or bulge on or near the anus
- It feels like some stool was retained after a bowel movement
- Feeling pressure around the anus
Sometimes an internal hemorrhoid will protrude through the anus and become trapped. This may feel uncomfortable. Usually, it can be manually pushed back in and does not require medical treatment.
If a hemorrhoid bleeds internally, a blood clot
can form inside the hemorrhoid, creating a bluish colored lump. This is referred to as a thrombosed hemorrhoid and requires medical treatment. Thrombosed hemorrhoids can cause significant levels of pain. Sometimes a thrombosed hemorrhoid will rupture and release the clot and bleed heavily, and this condition also requires treatment. Ideally, a thrombosed hemorrhoid, whether it ruptures or not, should be removed within 72 hours of the onset of the thrombosis. If not removed, the pressure from a thrombosed hemorrhoid can damage the surrounding tissues.
Bleeding: Should I See a Doctor?
Generally, if there is only minor bleeding, namely a few drops of blood seen after a bowel movement, the hemorrhoids can be managed at home. If the hemorrhoid is regularly bleeding in between bowel movements and you frequently notice blood in your underwear or a fairly large amount of blood in the toilet after each use, definitely seek medical care.
Hemorrhoids can generally be treated at home
unless one or more of these symptoms occur:
- Pain, particularly if it is intense or has a sudden onset
- Losing more than a drop or two of blood after a bowel movement
- Bleeding in between bowel movements
- A new lump forms on or near the anus that is bluish in color