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Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, occur when the veins in the lower rectum or anus become swollen and inflamed. There are a number of different causes for this condition, which can be painful and irritating. There are internal hemorrhoids, where the swelling and inflammation exists within the rectum, and external hemorrhoids where the swelling and inflammation exists under the skin surrounding the anus. These are common ailments that affect as many as fifty percent of all adults by the time they reach the age of 50.

Causes, Risk Factors and Complications of Hemorrhoids

The veins surrounding the anus can stretch under pressure causing bulging or swelling. Hemorrhoids or swelling in these veins can occur when there is an increase in pressure within the lower rectum. There are a number of factors capable of causing increases in pressure including straining during a bowel movement, sitting on the toilet for too long a period of time, chronic constipation or diarrhea, anal intercourse, obesity and pregnancy. Hemorrhoid tendencies can be inherited, but most likely they occur simply because the patient is getting older and the tissues responsible for supporting the veins are weakening and stretching with age.

There are serious complications associated with hemorrhoids that should be considered. Chronic blood loss caused by hemorrhoids can lead to anemia, a medical condition where the body does not have enough red blood cells carrying oxygen to the cells in the body. Another complication of hemorrhoids is known as strangulated hemorrhoids, which means that the blood supply to a hemorrhoid has been cut off, which can lead to tissue death, gangrene and extreme pain and discomfort. Chronic hemorrhoid issues and hemorrhoids that are severely uncomfortable need to be treated by a medical professional. Because these complications can be serious and severe, it is essential to seek medical help when experiencing uncomfortable hemorrhoid symptoms.

Signs, Symptoms and Testsof Hemorrhoids

There are a number of signs and symptoms that arise as a result of hemorrhoids. These may include: painless bleeding upon having a bowel movement, irritation or itching in the anal region, swelling around the anus, pain or discomfort, leakage of feces and a lump near the anus which may feel painful or sensitive. The symptoms associated with hemorrhoids will vary depending on whether they are internal or external, because internal hemorrhoids rarely cause discomfort but external hemorrhoids do.

A physician may be able to see external hemorrhoids simply by administering a physical examination. There are other tests and procedures that will help to diagnose hemorrhoids, both internal and external. These include an examination of the anal canal and the rectum using a DRE or digital rectal exam and a visual inspection of the rectum and anal canal. Physicians will look for not only symptoms of hemorrhoids, but also symptoms of other digestive system diseases such as colorectal cancer. A more extensive examination may be required for patients who are at risk of cancer or other serious diseases.

Treatment, Drugs and Preventionof Hemorrhoids

Many treatments for hemorrhoids can be completed at home. However, when the hemorrhoid issue becomes more severe, visiting a physician and having ongoing professional medical care may be necessary. There are a number of minimally invasive procedures used to treat hemorrhoids including rubber band ligation, sclerotherapy or injection, coagulation, hemorrhoid removal and hemorrhoid stapling. The specific therapy chosen to handle the hemorrhoid will depend on how severe the symptoms are and how likely complications are.