Hemorrhoids are fairly common, especially among people ages 45 to 75. And most hemorrhoid symptoms, such as mild itching or mild pain, can usually be treated at home with over-the-counter remedies.
But there are times when a trip to the doctor is warranted — and many people do seek medical help, such as more specific medication or, in some cases, simple hemorrhoid surgery. Approximately 3.2 million hospital visits and 2 million prescriptions are for hemorrhoid treatment each year.
Severe complications of hemorrhoids are quite rare, but it’s important to know when to see your doctor.
“Anytime you have bleeding, you feel a lump in the anus, or have rectal pain you should see a doctor to make sure you don’t have a more serious cause of the symptoms,” says Aline Charabaty, MD, director of the Center of Inflammatory Bowel Disease at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.
However, even a less serious situation can prompt a call to your doctor. If you’ve been trying to treat hemorrhoids on your own, for instance, yet the hemorrhoid symptoms linger, a doctor visit makes sense.
“If you have already been diagnosed with hemorrhoids and your symptoms are not improving with fiber supplements, an increase in water intake, over-the-counter pain relievers, or a warm bath, schedule an appointment,” Dr. Charabaty says.
In most cases, you can see a general practitioner or your family physician about your hemorrhoid symptoms. If complications arise, you may be referred to a specialist, such as a gastroenterologist or a proctologist.
Different Types of Hemorrhoids
There are two types of hemorrhoids, external and internal. “External hemorrhoids come from the most external part of the anal canal,” Charabaty says. Internal hemorrhoids come from the inner part of the anal canal, near the rectum.
According to Cuckoo Choudhary, MD, a gastroenterologist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, one type is not worse than the other, but both can cause problems. “It all depends on the size and degree of the hemorrhoid,” Dr. Choudhary says. “Untreated internal hemorrhoids can cause bleeding. External hemorrhoids can cause thrombosis [blood clotting], which gives way to severe pain from hemorrhoidal strangulation.”
If you know you have hemorrhoids and you have acute and severe anal pain, it could be a sign of thrombosed hemorrhoids.
Know When to See Your Doctor
Though the annoyance of hemorrhoids can be reason enough to call your doctor, use this checklist to know when a visit is a must:
If you are experiencing any type of rectal bleeding.
If the hemorrhoids are causing you pain or discomfort.
If the problems persist despite trying over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams or other remedies.
If you are passing stools that look maroon in color or tarry in color, a sign of bleeding.
If you experience a large amount of rectal bleeding that is accompanied by dizziness or faintness, be sure to seek emergency medical care immediately.
From Everyday Health