The idea of being examined for hemorrhoids by a doctor or nurse can be intimidating and awkward for many people, not to mention quite painful. This article aims to help you prepare for this process by letting you know what to expect. The first thing to say is that if you have any of the following symptoms, then it is vitally important that you are examined by a doctor, to rule out the possibility of anything more serious:
Dark red blood actually mixed in with your stool (as opposed to bright red blood on toilet paper or coating your stool)
You are losing weight for no obvious reason.
Your bowel movements have significantly changed.
OK, so what should you expect on the initial examination? As well as lots of questions about your lifestyle and general health it is likely that the doctor will want to perform an examination of the area. This will probably involve an examination using his/her fingers (wearing gloves) and possibly using lubricant. If necessary the doctor may use an anoscope (a tube with a light on the end) to see internal hemorrhoids more clearly. It is also possible that the doctor may take a tissue sample, although this is fairly unlikely. It is reasonable to expect some discomfort during the examination – after all, the area is quite sensitive at the moment, but it will be over quickly.
There are a number of ways in which hemorrhoids can be treated. The following are the most common:
Creams – these work by soothing inflammation and sometimes also contain anaesthetic. They may be steroidal or non steroidal, although steroidal creams are better avoided as they can weaken the skin and cause the problem to return.
Banding – the doctor puts a tight elastic band around the hemorrhoid to cut off the blood supply. Typically the hemorrhoid will fall off within 7 days, and you may experience some pain during this time.
Injections – also known as Sclerotherapy, a chemical solution is injected into the blood vessels in the area. This works by numbing the nerve endings and then hardens the tissue to form a scar. It can take up to 4-6 weeks for the hemorrhoid to shrivel up and it is common to experience some pain or discomfort.
Surgery – also known as a Hemorrhoidectamy. This is the most extreme treatment and is only used for more serious cases that have failed to respond to other methods. The surgery is performed under general anaesthetic and involves stretching the anus whilst the hemorrhoids are cut away. You will be unable to work for a couple of weeks after the operation and may experience quite a lot of pain, although you will be given pain killers.
It varies from person to person which of these prove to be the best hemorrhoids treatments, a visit to any forum will show widely varying results with all of the above.