For anyone who has suffered from hemorrhoids, you know how painful and annoying they are. But what causes them and how long do hemorrhoids last?

Hemorrhoids, also commonly known as piles, are swollen veins in the anus. They are characterized by discomfort in the rectum, either by pain or itching. Other symptoms include swelling of the anus, light bleeding of the rectum or irritation.

We commonly refer to the condition as hemorrhoids but “hemorrhoidal tissue” is actually a part of the body. It is made up blood vessels and muscle and tissue. It becomes an ailment when enlargement occurs causing symptoms.

Although the exact cause is unknown, there are several factors that may contribute to the onset of hemorrhoids. The swelling is due to stretching of the veins in the anus that is caused by pressure in the rectum. Pressure from straining during bowel movements often results in hemorrhoids. Other contributing factors like sitting for long periods of time (especially sitting on the toilet), obesity, pregnancy, a low fiber diet or anal intercourse may lead to hemorrhoids.

How long do hemorrhoids last? That depends.

Image: CC by A-SA 3.0 Unported, by WikipedianProlific, via Wikimedia Commons

Types of Hemorrhoids

There are two types of hemorrhoids, categorized by where they are located.

External hemorrhoids

External hemorrhoids are outside the rectum and can be seen and felt. They are usually the most painful, and uncomfortable. The reason they are painful is that the anus has sensitive nerve endings at the opening. Over-the-counter medications are more likely used to treat external hemorrhoids because they help reduce the pain and swelling. These all provide symptom relief as the hemorrhoids have the chance to go away on their own.

How long do external hemorrhoids last? Depending on how mild or severe the case, hemorrhoids can clear up in as little as two days on their own. More severe cases last up to a few months especially if no changes have been made to lifestyle and diet.

Internal hemorrhoids

Internal hemorrhoids are located inside the rectum where no nerve endings exist to cause pain. Typically, internal hemorrhoids are diagnosed when bleeding occurs. Blood present on tissue or in the toilet can signal the presence of internal hemorrhoids but be warned. Bleeding is not exclusive to hemorrhoidal issues. If bleeding is present and persists for a prolonged time, it may signal other more serious diseases.

Prolapsed hemorrhoid

A prolapsed hemorrhoid is an internal hemorrhoid that has made its way out of the rectum, extruding past the anus to the outside of the body. The pain comes when it comes in contact with the nerve endings of the anus. Different from external hemorrhoids, they have softer tissue and may appear a lighter pink in color. The good news is they often go back into to the rectum by themselves. If not, you can gently push them back in for the pain to subside.

Thrombosed hemorrhoid

A thrombosed hemorrhoid is an external hemorrhoid where a clot has formed in the vein. When blood pools in the vein and a clot occurs, this can be one of the most uncomfortable forms of hemorrhoids. Although not dangerous, it can be extremely painful. A thrombosed hemorrhoid is usually a bluish, purple color.

Do Hemorrhoids Go Away?

The age-old question has been posed since we knew hemorrhoids existed. How long do hemorrhoids last and can go away on their own? Some, however, require relief of symptoms or pain management while waiting. Hemorrhoids will most likely go away on their own if the activity that caused the onset ceases. For example, if you were straining during bowel movements due to constipation, take steps to alleviate the condition. Try drinking more water or taking stool softeners to reduce the amount of pressure on the rectum during bowel movements.

Although there are hundreds of over-the-counter treatments for hemorrhoids, none of them actually cure hemorrhoids. They can aid in managing pain or help reduce swelling. Consumer Health Reports has conducted studies on the effectiveness of many of the top remedies on the market.

How Long Do Hemorrhoids last?

Depending on how mild or severe the condition, some cases of hemorrhoids can clear up in as little as two days. More serious occurrences, however, can take up to several months to go away, especially if no changes to lifestyle or diet have been made. How long do hemorrhoids last? That depends partly on you. You can lessen the length of time by taking a few steps. A really simple actionable step is altering your sitting position or length of time sitting in a particular spot.

How long do hemorrhoids last? According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases external hemorrhoids last only about a week. Often they go away on their own and you can manage pain with the help of non-prescription medication. If they persist longer than 7 days, you should seek medical attention.

Treatment

Most cases of hemorrhoids are easily treated at home with no further care needed. According to information from the Mayo Clinic, making these few adjustments will result in quick relief of the symptoms.

Eat fiber-rich foods

Raw fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods help to soften the stool and create bulk thereby lessening the pressure of straining during bowel movements.

Apply topical preparations

Use of over-the-counter treatments can help eliminate the pain and reduce the swelling. This will relieve the symptoms as the healing process takes place.

Soak in the tub

Sitting in warm water for at least 10 minutes a couple of times a day relieves the discomfort of hemorrhoids.

Keep clean

Gently cleanse the anal area with warm water either from a shower or bath on a daily basis. Pat dry or use a blow dryer on a low setting. Do not use alcohol-based wipes or dry toilet tissue.

Minimize inflammation

Reduce swelling by applying ice packs. Use oral inflammatory medication to further reduce discomfort.

Image CC by A-SA 4.0 International, by BruceBlaus, via Wikimedia Commons

When to Seek Professional Help

If you treat hemorrhoids yourself using the above mother and symptoms persist, it is time get help from a doctor. He or she can usually diagnose the presence of external hemorrhoids with a visual exam. If you have internal ones, a more thorough examination is necessary. Your doctor can help determine how long hemorrhoids last in your case and can provide treatment options.

The doctor can often find internal hemorrhoids by inserting a gloved finger up the rectum and feeling for lumps. This method doesn’t always reveal the presence of hemorrhoids since some tissue is soft and they go undetected. In that case, he may use one of several types of scopes. In extreme cases, he may call for a colonoscopy in order to rule out any more serious disease.

If you are diagnosed with a case of hemorrhoids that requires medical intervention, several options are available. Doctors often provide minor procedures in their offices. Finally, severe hemorrhoids can be surgically removed either in an outpatient procedure or an overnight stay. Both require minimal recovery.

Getting to the “Bottom” of Things

Although they may cause discomfort, hemorrhoids are not a major health threat. How long do hemorrhoids last is not a one answer fits all type of question. They are a very common ailment. In fact, nearly 50 percent of the population has suffered from them at some point in their lives. The good news is that they do not pose long-term health risks. Most clear up in less than a week. Most people are able to treat them on their own with over the counter medications, which determines how long do hemorrhoids last. Some choose to make lifestyle changes that result in permanent freedom from the condition.

 

Featured Image: CC by 0, by derneuemann, via Pixabay

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