Hemorrhoids are swollen and inflamed veins around the anus or in the lower rectum. They are formed when there is too much pressure on these veins. External hemorrhoids form under the skin around the anus. Internal hemorrhoids form in the lining of the anus and lower rectum.
Why Choose Cooper for Hemorrhoid Treatment
- Expert diagnosis and treatment: Hemorrhoid symptoms can sometimes look like other health problems. Our physicians are experts at determining the exact cause of your symptoms and making the most effective treatment recommendations - and specialty referrals within the Cooper network when needed.
- Multidisciplinary expertise: Our board-certified primary care providers, gastroenterologists, and colorectal surgeons work as a team to ensure you receive the comprehensive, personalized treatment you need.
- Latest surgical techniques: If surgery is needed, we use minimally invasive techniques that result in less pain and bleeding and a quicker recovery.
At Cooper, your doctor can diagnose hemorrhoids based on your medical history and by performing a physical exam on site. Our experts will check the area around your anus, perform a digital rectal exam, or other necessary procedures to look inside your anus and rectum to accurately diagnose and recommend a treatment.
- Physical exam. An exam is done to check your anus and rectum and look for swollen blood vessels.
- Digital rectum examination (DRE). Your doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum to check for any problems.
- Anoscopy. A hollow, lighted tube is put into your anus to see internal hemorrhoids.
- Proctoscopy. A lighted tube is put into your anus to see your rectum.
- Sigmoidoscopy. This test checks the inside of part of your large intestine and helps to determine what may be causing diarrhea, belly pain, constipation, abnormal growths, and bleeding. A short, flexible, lighted tube (sigmoidoscope) is put into your intestine through the rectum.
Signs and Causes of Hemorrhoids
Symptoms depend on the type of hemorrhoid. External hemorrhoid symptoms include anal itching. Internal hemorrhoid symptoms include rectal bleeding. Poor toilet habits, constipation, a low-fiber diet, and aging may cause hemorrhoids.
Eating high-fiber foods can make your stools softer and easier to pass and can help treat and prevent hemorrhoids. Drinking water and other liquids, such as fruit juices and clear soups, can help the fiber in your diet work better.
Treatment for Hemorrhoids
Your team will create a care plan for you based on:
- Your age, overall health, and past health
- Whether you have internal hemorrhoids, external hemorrhoids, or both
- How well you handle certain medicines, treatments, or therapies
- If your condition is expected to get worse
- The treatment plan that is most comfortable for you
You can manage and treat most hemorrhoid symptoms at home by changing your diet and toilet habits. Measures you can take include:
- eating foods that are high in fiber
- taking a stool softener or a fiber supplement
- drinking water or other nonalcoholic liquids
- not straining during bowel movements
- not sitting on the toilet for long periods of time
- taking over-the-counter pain relievers
- sitting in a tub of warm water, called a sitz bath, several times a day to help relieve pain
Applying over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams or ointments or using suppositories may relieve mild pain, swelling, and itching of external hemorrhoids. If these measure don’t relieve symptoms within about a week, you should see your doctor.
Most prolapsed internal hemorrhoids go away without at-home treatment. However, severely prolapsed or bleeding internal hemorrhoids may need medical treatment.
When home management proves unsuccessful, your primary care doctor can refer you to a colorectal surgeon. This type of surgeon can treat hemorrhoids with procedures during an office visit, in an outpatient surgery center, or in a hospital.
- Rubber band ligation for bleeding or prolapsing internal hemorrhoids. A doctor places a special rubber band around the base of the hemorrhoid to cut off the blood supply. The banded part of the hemorrhoid shrivels and falls off, and scar tissue forms in the remaining part of the hemorrhoid, often shrinking it.
- Sclerotherapy. A doctor injects a solution into an internal hemorrhoid, which causes scar tissue to form. The scar tissue cuts off the blood supply, often shrinking the hemorrhoid.
- Infrared photocoagulation, during which a tool is used to direct infrared light at an internal hemorrhoid. Heat created by the infrared light causes scar tissue to form, which cuts off the blood supply, often shrinking the hemorrhoid.
- Electrocoagulation, in which the doctor uses a tool that sends an electric current into an internal hemorrhoid. The electric current causes scar tissue to form, which cuts off the blood supply, often shrinking the hemorrhoid.
- Hemorrhoidectomy, in which the doctor removes large external hemorrhoids and prolapsing internal hemorrhoids that do not respond to other treatments.
- Hemorrhoid stapling, in which the doctor uses a special stapling tool to remove internal hemorrhoid tissue and pull a prolapsing internal hemorrhoid back into the anus.