Common symptoms of hemorrhoids may be a sign of other serious health problems. Colon or rectal cancer and other conditions have many of the same symptoms as hemorrhoids. Call your doctor if you have symptoms like these:
- Stools are black or tarry.
- A lump or bulge that is not tender and does not go away develops at the anal opening.
If you have hemorrhoids, call your doctor if:
- Moderate rectal pain lasts longer than 1 week after home treatment.
- Pain or swelling is severe.
- Tissue from inside the body bulges from the anus and does not return to normal after 3 to 7 days of home treatment.
- A lump inside the anus becomes bigger or more painful.
If rectal bleeding becomes heavy or changes color (such as from bright red to dark red), or if stools change size, shape or color (from brown to maroon or black), be sure to see your doctor.
Watchful waiting is a wait-and-see approach. And in most cases, bleeding caused by hemorrhoids should stop after 2 to 3 days. Continue home treatment to prevent bleeding from starting again. Call your doctor if bleeding:
- Occurs for more than 1 week without improvement.
- Starts again.
- Occurs when there is no reason to expect it.
If you are older than age 50 or have a family history of colon cancer, it is a good idea to tell your doctor any time you have new rectal bleeding, notice blood on your stools, have changes in bowel habits or have anal pain. These symptoms may be signs of colon cancer or other conditions. Your doctor may recommend screening tests to see if you have a more serious problem.
Who to see: The following professionals can evaluate and treat hemorrhoids:
- Family medicine doctor
- Nurse practitioner
- Physician assistant
- General surgeon
If medical treatment or surgery is needed, you may be referred to a:
- General or colorectal surgeon.
- Doctor who specializes in problems affecting the rectum and anus (proctologist).
© Healthwise, Incorporated.