Hemorrhoids can be a subtle symptoms, especially when they aren’t accompanied by any pain or discomfort. Many people don’t even realize that they have hemorrhoids unless they experience intense itching, discomfort or see bright red blood in their stool.
So here’s a brief overview of hemorrhoids. There are two kinds of hemorrhoids, internal and external. Internal hemorrhoids develop inside the anal canal above the area of sensation, called the dentate line. This is very important because it allows for the painless treatment of internal hemorrhoids. These veins will swell up and engorge with blood for many reasons: constipation, straining, pushing, etc. Internal hemorrhoids typically present with painless bright red rectal bleeding, either on the commode or on the toilet paper after a bowel movement. External hemorrhoids develop on the outside of the anal opening and come in two forms, painless and painful.
Painful external hemorrhoids are typically thrombosed external hemorrhoids. A thrombosis is a blood clot and the vessels underneath the skin around the anal opening (peri-anal area) will rupture and burst. A blood clot develops under the skin which becomes extremely painful. Thrombosed external hemorroids are typically painful for 72 hours and the pain begins to subside by itself, however, the blood clot and “lump” is still present and this may take up to one month to be absorbed by your body. If the pain is too great or doesn’t subside after 72 hours, typically when the thrombosed external hemorrhoid is very large, then the blood clot needs to be surgically removed. This can usually be done in the office setting under local anesthesia.
Painless external hemorrhoids typically develop from engorgement of blood vessels under the skin around the anal opening or perianal area. These engorged blood vessels will not thrombose or clot and are typically accompanied by anal skin tags. These external hemorrhoids may be difficult to manage because they may get in the way of good personal hygeine or just may be aesthetically unpleasing.
The important thing is to not panic if you see blood during your bowel movement and see your proctologist. Remember, the blood itself isn’t necessarily cause for concern: when hemorrhoids bleed, they typically heal up again quickly, and the loss of blood itself isn’t dangerous.
However, bright red blood may be an indicator of more serious health concerns such as anal cancer, colon cancer or diverticulosis, which is why it’s always wise to visit an expert proctologist for a full diagnostic workup and colonoscopy if necessary to rule out other more serious issues.
If hemorrhoids are indeed the cause, then the best first strategy is simply to avoid prolonged sitting and avoid straining during bowel movements by keeping an ideal stool consistency. If the problem persists or worsens, then you’ll want to learn more about some of the best surgical treatments for chronic hemorrhoids. Stay tuned on our blog for the latest and greatest painless hemorrhoid treatments that are available.
Contact the Los Angeles and Orange County Proctology Institute for an appointment today at our Beverly Hills, Newport Beach and Huntington Beach locations.