Hemorrhoids Q & A

What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids, sometimes called piles, are swollen veins that occur in the rectum or skin around the anus. Hemorrhoids are very common, and they have a range of causes and can be treated through a variety of methods. While some people may have hemorrhoids and never notice a symptom, they often cause itching, pain, and bleeding, especially during a bowel movement.

What causes hemorrhoids?

Because the veins around the anus tend to stretch or swell when under pressure, there are a variety of reasons a hemorrhoid can form. These include:

  • Excessive straining during bowel movements
  • Sitting on the toilet too long
  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Anal intercourse
  • Low-fiber diet

Hemorrhoids become more and more likely as you age and your veins become more fragile. It’s also common for many people to never know the exact cause of their hemorrhoid.

What are the symptoms of hemorrhoids?

If you have a hemorrhoid, you’ll probably experience:

  • Bleeding, especially during bowel movements
  • Itching and irritation near the anus
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Swelling
  • A tender lump forming near the anus

Depending on the location, a hemorrhoid can have different symptoms. An internal hemorrhoid occurs inside the rectum and usually causes bleeding but no pain or noticeable swelling.

An external hemorrhoid, on the other hand, can more easily become irritated and painful as it occurs on the skin around your anus. Sometimes blood can pool in an external hemorrhoid, forming what is called a thrombosed hemorrhoid. These are often the most painful type of hemorrhoid.

How are hemorrhoids treated?

Hemorrhoids are very common and there’s a range of treatment options the physician can turn to. Internal hemorrhoids are commonly treated with a procedure called infrared coagulation (IRC), a minimally invasive technique that applies infrared light to the hemorrhoids, causing them to shrink and shrivel over the next few days. This is an excellent procedure choice for appropriate patients as it involves the least risk of discomfort with no sedation required and the quickest procedural time. Patients frequently have this performed on a lunch break and then return to work.

Other options to treat hemorrhoids include rubber band ligation, an injection designed to shrink the hemorrhoid, or a simple surgery to remove especially painful or thrombosed hemorrhoids.

To learn more or for effective relief if you have a hemorrhoid, call New York Gastroenterology Associates or schedule an appointment online today.

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