Hemorrhoids are blood vessels (veins) in the rectum or anal canal. When these blood vessels become swollen or dilated, symptoms such as rectal bleeding can occur. Many people have hmorrhoids, but may not have symptoms.

What are the symptoms of hemorrhoids?

Symptoms include:

  • Itching of the skin around the anus
  • Bleeding - bleeding is usually painless. You might see bright red blood after using the toilet
  • Pain - if a blood clot forms inside a hemorrhoid, this can cause pain. It can also cause a lump that you might be able to feel
  • Swelling - hemorrhoids can swell or dangle outside of the rectum during a bowel movement

If you notice bleeding when you have a bowel movement, or if your bowel movements look like tar, see a doctor. Bleeding can be caused by something other than hemorrhoids so you should have it checked out.

How can I care for myself at home?

Most hemorrhoids get better on their own, or with simple measures. These measures include avoidance of straining, and treatment of hard stools or constipation. You can do this by:

  • drinking lots of fluids
  • increase your fiber intake - eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and other foods with fiber. You need 20-35 grams of fiber a day to keep your bowel movements regular
  • limit fatty foods and alcohol
  • take stool softeners (ie. Colace, Dulcolax) to treat constipation
  • Get regular exercise

To releieve symptoms of hemorrhoids, you can:

  • Soak your buttocks in 2-3 inches of warm water
    • try doing this up to 2-3 times a day for 10-15 minutes. Do NOT add soap, bubble bath, or anything to the water
  • Try non-prescription medicines 
    • you can find over-the-counter creams or ointments that you can apply to relieve pain, itching, and swelling
    • do NOT use medicines that have hydrocortisone


Are there other treatments?

Yes! If you still have symptoms after trying the steps listed above, you might need treatment with your gastroenterologist. These treatments include:

  • Rubber Band Ligation
  • Infrared Coagulation (IRC)
  • Sclerotherapy
  • Surgery


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© Jatinder S. Sekhon, M.D.