Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are inflamed blood vessels in the area around your anus.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, hemorrhoids are considered common, with about 50 percent of adults over 50 years of age experiencing them.
Symptoms of hemorrhoids can range from mild to severe and can include not only pain, but also itching and bleeding.
Some people even say that their hemorrhoids are the most painful thing they have experienced. But despite the very real discomfort and pain that hemorrhoids cause, hemorrhoids themselves can’t kill you.
Let’s cover the basics of hemorrhoids symptoms, including what’s normal, what isn’t, and when you should call a doctor.
We’ll also give you some ideas for safely treating your hemorrhoids at home, so you can reduce your symptoms and get back to your life.
Hemorrhoids can cause severe pain and discomfort. However, hemorrhoids themselves are not deadly. Even the most severe flare-ups won’t put your life in danger.
Hemorrhoids can be internal, meaning they line the internal wall of your anus, or external, meaning you can feel them on the outside of your anus.
Both types of hemorrhoids can cause other health complications, some of which aren’t good for your long-term health.
Complications of internal hemorrhoids can include:
- internal bleeding
- infected internal hemorrhoids
- a prolapsed internal hemorrhoid, which emerges from your anus and becomes visible
Complications of external hemorrhoids can include:
- thrombosis (blood clots) due to blood flow concerns
- strangulated hemorrhoids
- hardened lumps and skin tags
What presents as hemorrhoids can sometimes be an indication of another more serious condition. Hemorrhoids share symptoms with:
For this reason, you shouldn’t assume that internal bleeding and pain or lumps at your rectum are caused by hemorrhoids.
If treating your hemorrhoids at home doesn’t provide relief after a week or so, you should schedule an appointment to talk with a doctor about your symptoms.
When to seek emergency attention
Seek emergency help immediately if you:
- have severe pain and internal bleeding
- have a fever
- feel faint or dizzy
If you’re experiencing a lot of pain from hemorrhoids, you might want to try some home remedies. These are just some DIY and over-the-counter treatments that can help manage and reduce symptoms of hemorrhoids:
- Use soothing wipes. They can provide immediate relief when you feel swelling after using the bathroom. Look for alcohol-free options with natural botanical ingredients like witch hazel or aloe vera.
- Soak in a warm sitz bath. A sitz bath can help to cleanse the area and soothe inflammation.
- Try an over-the-counter pain reliever. Some examples of these medications include acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
- Use a hemorrhoid cream or suppository. This option is for short-term relief, and shouldn’t be used as a long-term solution.
- Take a stool softener. This can decrease pain during bowel movements and reduce the amount you have to strain to use the bathroom.
After you’ve had a hemorrhoid flare-up, you may want to take steps to prevent more from developing. Hemorrhoids can be activated by:
- a lack of fiber in your diet
- other lifestyle factors
You can prevent hemorrhoids by:
- limiting the amount of time you spend sitting on the toilet
- eating a diet rich in high fiber foods
- drinking plenty of water every day
- staying active, engaging in cardiovascular exercise that keeps you up and out of your chair for a good part of each day
Hemorrhoids can cause pain and discomfort, but hemorrhoids themselves are not considered a danger to your life.
Implementing prevention strategies and trying out home remedies can help to decrease hemorrhoids’ interference in your daily routine.
Chronic pain that appears to be from hemorrhoids can sometimes be caused by another more serious condition.
You should contact your doctor if you have severe anal pain or bleeding, especially if you are also experiencing a high fever and diarrhea too.