Hemorrhoids: Treatments and Tips

How we treat, and how you can prevent, hemorrhoids

roll of toilet paper

Most people think that any problems in the anal area are hemorrhoids. Whether they experience anal pain, discomfort or even bleeding, they self-diagnose a case of hemorrhoids and put off proper treatment.

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The problem may well be hemorrhoid-related. But if you have persistent anal pain or see blood on the tissue or in the toilet, don’t just assume hemorrhoids are the culprit.

Rectal bleeding and pain can be an indicator of something much more serious, including:

If you experience any rectal bleeding, see your doctor and get it checked out.

Not everyone realizes that we all have hemorrhoids — specifically hemorrhoidal tissue, which are vascular cushions within the soft tissue of the lower portion of the anus. It’s when symptoms occur that hemorrhoids become a problem. And they are much more common as we age and during pregnancy.

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Treatments for mild hemorrhoids

If you’re diagnosed with hemorrhoids and have mild symptoms — bleeding, protruding tissue, mucus discharge — changing your toileting habits and adding fiber and increasing liquid to your diet may be all that’s needed to provide relief.

If this doesn’t do the trick, options include minimally invasive office procedures:

  • Rubber-banding ligation, which uses rubber bands to cut off the blood supply to the hemorrhoid
  • Sclerotherapy, the injection of a solution into the hemorrhoids to create scarring

Surgical treatments for severe hemorrhoids

Surgery becomes necessary only if your hemorrhoids cause severe symptoms, including discomfort and pain that impacts your quality of life.

There is a misperception that hemorrhoid surgery is painful, but newer surgical treatments, done on an outpatient basis, are much less painful than the traditional excisional hemorrhoidectomy. These surgical treatments include stapled hemorrhoidectomy and hemorrhoid artery ligation.

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Tips to avoid getting hemorrhoids

Remember the following to help prevent hemorrhoids:

  • Don’t strain. Straining and spending more time on the toilet than is necessary can put undue pressure on the anus, causing hemorrhoidal and other issues.
  • Don’t read on the toilet. You’ll spend too much time there. So toss those Harry Potter paperbacks and old People magazines from the bathroom.
  • Get more fiber — and eat smarter. Make sure you get enough fiber in your diet by eating plenty of green vegetables and whole grains; use a fiber supplement if necessary. Make smart dietary choices by avoiding high-fat and fast foods. Drink plenty of water.
  • Exercise. Getting yourself moving helps move things through your system.
  • Use stool softener or laxative. If you’re constipated, you’ll spend more time straining on the toilet. If diet doesn’t help, over-the-counter or prescription softeners and laxatives may help.

More information

Do you have more questions? Download our free fact sheet about hemorrhoids.

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Brooke Gurland, MD

Brooke Gurland, MD, is a surgeon with the Department of Colorectal Surgery at Cleveland Clinic.