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Hemorrhoids - Topic Overview

External hemorrhoids can get irritated and clot under the skin, causing a hard painful lump. This is called a thrombosed, or clotted, hemorrhoid.

Your doctor can tell if you have hemorrhoids by asking about your past health and doing a physical exam.

You may not need many tests at first, especially if you are younger than 50 and your doctor thinks that your rectal bleeding is caused by hemorrhoids. Your doctor may just examine your rectum camera.gif with a gloved finger. Or your doctor may use a short, lighted scope to look inside the rectum.

Rectal bleeding can be a sign of a more serious problem, such as colon, rectal, or anal cancer. So if the first exam does not show a clear cause of your problems, your doctor may use a lighted scope (sigmoidoscope) to look at the lower third of your colon. Or your doctor may use another kind of scope (colonoscope) to look at the entire colon to check for other causes of bleeding.

For most external hemorrhoids, home treatment is all you need. This includes slowly adding fiber to your meals, drinking more water, and using over-the-counter ointments for a limited time to stop itching. You also may use stool softeners. The same home treatment can be used for most internal hemorrhoids.

If your internal hemorrhoids are severe, you may need other treatment. The doctor may tie off the hemorrhoids with rubber bands or scar the tissue around the hemorrhoids. These treatments reduce the blood supply to the hemorrhoids so that they shrink or go away.

Surgery to remove hemorrhoids may be done if other treatments don't work.

Healthy habits can help you prevent hemorrhoids or keep them from getting worse. Eat foods that have lots of fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Also, drink plenty of water, and get plenty of exercise.

Learning about hemorrhoids:

Being diagnosed:

Getting treatment:

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 16, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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