The medical condition called hemorrhoids or piles has a history dating back to, or even before, 1500 BCE in Mesopotamia. So hemorrhoids are not new; they have been around almost forever. Surprisingly, some people still don’t know much about them. Why? Because of the stigma and the shame attached to the discussion about such medical conditions.
Hemorrhoids are a mass of blood vessels located at the end of our rectum and anus. That means we all have them. Then why are they known as a medical condition? Because these blood vessels can swell due to excessive pressure on the rectum and anus. Those swollen veins can cause rectal bleeding, pain, discomfort, and itching.
Hemorrhoids are more common than ever now. However, most people suffering from hemorrhoids end up neglecting them for a long time. Why? Some people feel embarrassed to talk about them; they choose to suffer in silence rather than consulting a doctor. Others do not get diagnosed due to the lack of knowledge regarding the symptoms.
Whatever the reason, neglecting hemorrhoids is not a wise thing to do! They are not life-threatening, but you might need medical care to get rid of them.
Read this blog to know what happens when you neglect hemorrhoids.
What Should You Know About Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are divided into two main categories: internal and external.
Internal hemorrhoids occur in the rectum. They often prolapse, which means you can feel them coming out of your anus during bowel movements. They are divided into four grades based on their degree of prolapse.
- Grade 1 hemorrhoids do not prolapse outside the anus.
- Grade 2 hemorrhoids prolapse out of the anus, but they return to their position on their own.
- Grade 3 hemorrhoids also prolapse out of the anus, but they need to be pushed back manually.
- Grade 4 hemorrhoids cannot be pushed back manually; you require surgery for hemorrhoids of grade 4.
Internal hemorrhoids are not generally painful. However, they can bleed and cause itching, pain, and discomfort down there.
External hemorrhoids develop under the skin surrounding the anus. You can see and feel them as rubbery lumps under the skin of your anal area. They usually cause more itching and discomfort than internal hemorrhoids because there are more nerves in the area.
Hemorrhoids become thrombosed when blood clots develop inside them. They appear purplish-blue, grey, black, or brown on the skin. They cause pain when you sit, walk, or pass bowel movements.
Why Shouldn’t You Neglect Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids usually go away on their own. If they don’t, you need to consult a doctor to know the severity of your condition. Following are some reasons you shouldn’t neglect them for long.
1. They Might Become Chronic
If your hemorrhoids do not go away within a few weeks, they might have turned chronic. You require medical procedures or surgeries to get rid of them.
Chronic hemorrhoids are often associated with the following conditions:
- Prolapse: Some hemorrhoids that protrude outside the anus might need human intervention to return to their position.
- Strangulation: A prolapsed hemorrhoid becomes strangulated when the muscles around the anus restrict its blood supply.
- Development of Thrombus: Thrombus are blood clots that may form inside an external hemorrhoid.
2. They Might Keep Returning
Do your hemorrhoids go away on their own but appear again after some time? If yes, you need to get treated by a doctor.
A doctor will help you figure out the root cause behind your hemorrhoids. Being aware of the factors that cause your veins to swell repeatedly will help you take relevant precautionary measures and prevent future episodes.
Hemorrhoids develop due to excess stress and pressure on the rectal blood vessels. This excessive pressure mostly results from the following factors.
- Chronic constipation
- Strained bowel movements
- Prolonged sitting on the toilet
- Heavy lifting
3. They Might Not Be Hemorrhoids At All
Do not assume that you have hemorrhoids unless diagnosed by a doctor. Why? Because you might keep neglecting your symptoms, thinking that they would go away on their own.
What if you don’t have hemorrhoids at all? Some symptoms of hemorrhoids, like rectal bleeding and painful bowel movements, are similar to the symptoms of other serious diseases such as colon cancer, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis. Therefore, it’s better to consult a doctor before it’s too late.
When Should You See a Doctor for Hemorrhoids?
Do you know at what point medical intervention for hemorrhoids becomes necessary? The answer totally depends upon your symptoms and their severity.
- Most hemorrhoids go away on their own. At-home treatments, like changes in your diet, using over-the-counter medicines and creams, sitz bath, and ice packs, should relieve you from the pain, itching, and discomfort. If they don’t, it’s time to consult the doctor.
- A little rectal bleeding is common when you have hemorrhoids. However, you should see a doctor when you bleed from the rectum for the first time. A doctor can confirm whether the cause of your bleeding is hemorrhoids or a more severe bowel issue like colon cancer.
- Even if you are already diagnosed with hemorrhoids, check in with your doctor if the bleeding does not stop or reduce over time.
- Prolapsed external hemorrhoids may not go away on their own. Surgical hemorrhoid treatment is the only option in some cases.
You should not neglect the symptoms of hemorrhoids for long. Early diagnosis helps you take necessary measures on time, preventing your symptoms from worsening. The longer you wait, the more complications you have to suffer. Moreover, they might keep recurring if you don’t find out the root cause with the help of a doctor.
Also, symptoms of hemorrhoids are similar to the symptoms of other severe diseases like colon cancer, Chron’s, and ulcerative colitis. If you neglect these symptoms, thinking they will go away on their own, you might cause a delay in the correct diagnosis of your condition.
In short, neglecting hemorrhoids increases your pain and suffering even more.