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Hemorrhoids - When To Call a Doctor

Common symptoms of hemorrhoids may be a sign of other serious health problems. Colon or rectal cancer and other conditions have many of the same symptoms as hemorrhoids. Call your doctor if you have symptoms like these:

  • Stools are black or tarry.
  • A lump or bulge that is not tender and does not go away develops at the anal opening.

If you have hemorrhoids, call your doctor if:

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  • Moderate rectal pain lasts longer than 1 week after home treatment.
  • Pain or swelling is severe.
  • Tissue from inside the body bulges from the anus and does not return to normal after 3 to 7 days of home treatment.
  • A lump inside the anus becomes bigger or more painful.

If rectal bleeding becomes heavy or changes color (such as from bright red to dark red), or if stools change size, shape, or color (from brown to maroon or black), be sure to see your doctor.

Watchful waiting

Watchful waiting is a wait-and-see approach. And in most cases, bleeding caused by hemorrhoids should stop after 2 to 3 days. Continue home treatment to prevent bleeding from starting again. Call your doctor if bleeding:

  • Occurs for more than 1 week without improvement.
  • Starts again.
  • Occurs when there is no reason to expect it.

If you are older than age 50 or have a family history of colon cancer, it is a good idea to tell your doctor any time you have new rectal bleeding, notice blood on your stools, have changes in bowel habits, or have anal pain. These symptoms may be signs of colon cancer or other conditions. Your doctor may recommend screening tests to see if you have a more serious problem. See Exams and Tests.

Who to see

The following professionals can evaluate and treat hemorrhoids:

If medical treatment or surgery is needed, you may be referred to a:

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    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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