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What Are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are a type of vein near the anus, thought to help maintain bowel movements. If these veins become swollen, inflamed, or cause discomfort, you may have a hemorrhoidal condition.

Our specialists at University of Utah Health provide comprehensive treatment and preventative care for bowel and anal issues in a discreet, comfortable environment. We will create a customized treatment plan that fits your individual needs and addresses your concerns.

Types of Hemorrhoids

We treat the following hemorrhoidal conditions:

  • external hemorrhoids (inflamed or swollen veins under the skin near the anus),
  • internal hemorrhoids (inflamed, swollen, or bleeding veins inside the anus), and
  • mixed hemorrhoids (both external and internal areas of concern are present).

Symptoms of Hemorrhoids

You may experience mild to severe symptoms, depending on your condition and type of hemorrhoids. Symptoms typically occur in a pattern and may increase or decrease over time.If you rub or clean around your anus too much, your symptoms may worsen. Talk to your provider about your individual symptoms to determine the best plan of care.

External Hemorrhoid Signs

  • Anal itching
  • Large bumps of fleshy tissue or nodules near your anus
  • Tenderness near your anus
  • Anal pain, especially when sitting

For many people, external hemorrhoidal symptoms typically go away within a few days.

Internal Hemorrhoid Signs

  • Rectal bleedingThis symptom is associated with blood on the outside of your stool, on the toilet paper, or in the toilet bowl following a bowel movement.
  • Prolapse—This occurs when extra tissue comes through the anal opening after a bowel movement or straining.

Internal hemorrhoids may or may not be painful.

When to Seek Care for Hemorrhoids

Most cases of hemorrhoids do not require immediate care, but you should visit your provider for any discomfort or worsening symptoms. Your provider will work with you to identify proper treatment and make sure your symptoms are not due to a larger health issue (such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, colorectal cancer, or anal cancer).

Seek care right away if you:

  • experience severe pain around your anus, or during bowel movements.
  • have rectal bleeding, which may indicate more severe underlying conditions that require treatment.
  • have symptoms that worsen or persist after one week.
  • notice any unusual changes in the tissue in or around your anus. 

Find a Hemorrhoid Specialist

What Causes Hemorrhoids?

Uncomfortable hemorrhoids are caused by extra pressure within the veins around the anus. This can be due to one or more factors, including:

  • a low fiber diet,
  • straining or pushing during bowel movements,
  • chronic constipation or diarrhea,
  • sitting on the toilet for extended periods of time,
  • blood thinners or other medications, which may increase the risk of hemorrhoidal bleeding,
  • frequently moving or lifting heavy objects without proper support, and
  • pregnancy or labor.

Increased pressure in the abdominal cavity, constipation in pregnancy, and breastfeeding may lead to excess strain on the tissue around the anus and rectum.

Can Hemorrhoids Cause Cancer?

Hemorrhoids do not cause cancer. It’s important to talk with your provider about any symptoms you’re experiencing because they may be a signal of an underlying disease such as cancer.

How Long Do Hemorrhoids Last If Untreated?

In many cases, hemorrhoidal symptoms will persist with lack of treatment. However, hemorrhoids may resolve on their own as well. Patients who are motivated to make changes to their diet and bathroom habits typically see vast improvements within two to three weeks.

What to Expect at Your First Appointment

For your appointment, please:

  • arrive 15 minutes ahead of your appointment time to complete necessary paperwork.
  • bring your insurance card.
  • make sure our clinic has access to any medical records, imaging scans, or colonoscopy reports that were completed outside U of U Health.

During your visit, our specialist will:

  • ask about your medical history and discuss your health concerns.
  • check your anus and surrounding area for external hemorrhoids.
  • perform a rectal exam (insert a lubricated, gloved finger into your rectum) to check for internal hemorrhoids or anything else out of the ordinary.
  • use a small speculum inserted in the anus (anoscope) to check for internal hemorrhoids.
  • provide information about your diagnosis, answer your questions, and discuss the best course of treatment for your needs.

Hemorrhoid Treatments

Home Remedies for Hemorrhoids

As a first line of treatment, your doctor may recommend the following home treatments and techniques.

  • Add high fiber foods to your diet.
  • Take mild stool softeners or fiber supplements.
  • Drink plenty of water and other clear fluids.
  • Manage pain or itching with over-the-counter medications, creams, or ointments.
  • Take a warm water bath or sitz bath (mixing baking soda or salt into water).
  • Use a warm compress to help soothe the affected area.
  • Avoid spending a lot of time sitting on the toilet.
  • Avoid straining/pushing with bowel movements

If your symptoms persist or worsen after one week of home treatments, visit your healthcare provider.

Rubber Band Ligation (Banding) Procedure

For large or prolapsed (extra tissue coming through the anal opening) internal hemorrhoids, your doctor may recommend an in-office rubber band ligation. No pain medication or anesthesia is required for this procedure.

Before we begin, we will briefly evaluate the tissue and then place a small band around the base of the hemorrhoid. Over time, the excess tissue will fall off and leave the body through a regular bowel movement. Most of our patients experience minimal side effects and can return to their regular activities within the same day.

Hemorrhoid Surgery (Hemorrhoidectomy)

Hemorrhoid surgery is highly effective in addressing long-term issues and preventing further problems in the future. Most of our patients will return home the same day of surgery.

We use surgery to treat problematic hemorrhoids that are:

  • extremely painful,
  • contain a blood clot, or
  • associated with a large amount of redundant (extra) tissue.

You will be given medication during surgery so you will not feel pain. You will discuss your best option for pain management with your anesthesiologist on the day of your surgery.

During the procedure, your surgeon will make small incisions (cuts) on the external tissue around the hemorrhoids. The enlarged vein inside the hemorrhoid will be tied to prevent bleeding, and then your surgeon will remove the hemorrhoid. Your surgeon may also use an advanced energy device (surgical tool) to remove the hemorrhoid and seal the blood vessel at the same time. Our care team will go over the procedure in detail and answer any questions you have.

Your hemorrhoid removal may or may not require stitches. If you receive stitches, they will dissolve after surgery.

Preparing for Hemorrhoid Surgery

Minimal preparation is required for hemorrhoid surgery. We may only ask you to:

  • stop eating and drinking the night before the surgery and
  • discontinue certain medications, such as blood thinners.

How Painful is Hemorrhoid Surgery?

One to two weeks after your hemorrhoid surgery, you may experience increased discomfort, such as difficulty sitting or muscle spasms close to the surgical area. Pain medication and warm water soaks will help manage your symptoms.

What to Expect After Hemorrhoid Surgery

Your provider will give you detailed aftercare instructions, including:

  • how to clean the surgical site;
  • a medication schedule; and
  • pain management techniques (such as taking over-the-counter pain relievers, bathing in warm water, or using a warm compress).

We may prescribe you stronger pain medication to use for up to five days following your surgery. You’ll be scheduled for a four-week follow-up visit with your provider when your surgical site has healed.

How to Make an Appointment

To request an appointment with one of our specialists, please call 801-587-5854 or request an appointment online. Referrals from a primary care doctor or other physician are welcome, but not necessary.

Hear From Our Specialists

How Do You Know if You Have Hemorrhoids?

If you have rectal bleeding, it could be due to a hemorrhoid. But first you should see a health care professional to rule out other more serious causes, including rectal cancer--especially if bleeding is persistent.

Listen (5 min)

Hemorrhoids—or Something Else?

If you're experiencing severe rectal pain, you might think it's hemorrhoids, but it could be something worse. Dr. Tom Miller and Dr. Bartley Pickron talk about how to distinguish between common hemorrhoids and more serious conditions.

Listen (5 min)