Have you ever heard of hemorrhoids before? This medical condition is more common than ever now; all credit goes to the changes in human diet and lifestyle. However, most people still don’t know much about it. Why? Because they find it weird to talk about such conditions. As a result, the majority remain undiagnosed till their condition becomes worse.
This blog covers all the essential details you should know about hemorrhoids, including the symptoms and diagnosis of hemorrhoids. Continue reading for awareness.
What are Hemorrhoids?
In their normal state, hemorrhoids are just nerves and tissues present at the end of your rectum and anus to prevent leakage. Then why are they called a medical condition? Well, these bundles and tissues become a medical problem if they get swollen.
The issues which you face because of hemorrhoids vary depending upon their type. That means not all hemorrhoids are alike. They are classified into two primary categories: internal hemorrhoids and external hemorrhoids.
Moreover, the severity of your condition also depends on how early you get diagnosed. If you receive the required care and treatment in time, you will be safe from further complications and recover within no time.
Let’s discuss the different kinds of hemorrhoids before moving on to the symptoms and diagnosis.
Different Kinds of Hemorrhoids & Their Symptoms
There are two primary kinds of hemorrhoids depending upon where they develop in your body.
Internal Hemorrhoids are the ones that occur in the inside lining of the rectum. Patients cannot usually feel internal hemorrhoids until they prolapse through the anus while passing bowel movements. Internal hemorrhoids have been divided into four grades based on their degree of prolapse, the fourth grade being the most severe.
- Grade 1: They do not prolapse outside the anus
- Grade 2: They prolapse through the anus but go back to their place on their own
- Grade 3: They prolapse through the anus and do not go back to their place unless manually pushed
- Grade 4: They prolapse through the anus and need to be surgically removed
- As mentioned earlier, internal hemorrhoids usually go unnoticed until they prolapse or bleed. They are not usually painful because there are no sharp pain sensation nerves where they develop.
- Rectal bleeding is one of the most common symptoms of internal hemorrhoids. Patients may see blood in their stool or the tissue paper when they wipe down there.
- Patients may feel some discomfort like they haven’t completely emptied their rectum after passing a bowel movement.
- The internal hemorrhoids that prolapse through the anus often collect mucus or stool particles, causing itching and irritation called pruritus ani.
External Hemorrhoids are the ones that develop under the skin around the anus. Patients will be able to feel the bumps protruding on the outside of their anus. A pinch or a pull at external hemorrhoids will hurt very badly. They are typically more uncomfortable than internal hemorrhoids because the skin around them usually erodes due to irritation.
- Sometimes, blood clots form inside an external hemorrhoid, making it worse. This condition is called thrombosis. A thrombosed external hemorrhoid may look scary because it turns purple or blue.
- The lumps cause itching and irritation around the skin of your anal area.
- Patients may feel swelling around the area of external hemorrhoids.
- External hemorrhoids cause more pain and discomfort.
- External hemorrhoids also bleed when you strain too much while passing stool.
- A thrombosed external hemorrhoid is usually severe and causes more pain. It may even cause inflammation and swelling around the whole area.
Now that we know the symptoms of different kinds of hemorrhoids, let’s move on to talk about their diagnosis.
When to See the Doctor
Most types of hemorrhoids go away on their own after a while. You just have to take care by having fiber-rich food, not straining too much, or using some over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream.
However, you should definitely see the doctor if the symptoms are severe or do not improve within a few days. Why? Because your hemorrhoids might have turned severe, or you might have some other problem. The symptoms of hemorrhoids are similar to the symptoms of some other diseases or disorders like anal fissures, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcers, and colorectal cancer.
Diagnosis of Hemorrhoids
What happens when you first talk to your doctor about your symptoms? The doctor will ask for your medical history and perform a physical and digital rectal exam.
In a physical examination, the doctor will inspect your anus and rectum to check for any lumps, swelling, irritation, or other symptoms. External hemorrhoids are quite apparent and easy to diagnose this way.
Digital Rectal Exam
In a digital rectal exam, the doctor will wear gloves, use a lubricant, and insert a finger into your rectum. This is just to examine your muscle tone for any lumps or tenderness and check for blood in the stool.
Internal hemorrhoids require more in-depth examination. The doctors may suggest the following procedures based on the severity of your symptoms.
An anoscope is a short plastic tube with illumination inserted inside your anal canal and rectum.
When the doctor discovers rectal bleeding, they may suggest sigmoidoscopy to rule out other causes of bleeding. This test involves using a lighted tube called a sigmoidoscope to examine your lower colon and take the tissue sample from there if required.
The doctors may also suggest a colonoscopy if they detect the chances of colon cancer. The doctor examines your entire colon with a long flexible tube known as a colonoscopy in this procedure.
You don’t have to be afraid of hemorrhoids as they mostly go away on their own. People can ease their symptoms through warm baths, hemorrhoid creams, and fiber suppositories. People who exercise and drink a lot of water can relieve themselves from constipation and stop hemorrhoids from forming again.