Skip to main content
Read about

Hemorrhoids: How to Get Relief

Learn how you can prevent hemorrhoids and how to find relief.
A man sitting on a light teal toilet with his chin in his hand. Three dark blue wavy lines come from his butt.
Tooltip Icon.
Medically reviewed by
Therapeutic Endoscopy Fellow, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Last updated October 25, 2022

Hemorrhoids quiz

Take a quiz to find out if you have hemorrhoids.

Care Plan


First steps to consider

  • Most cases of hemorrhoids can be treated at home.
  • You can treat pain and itchiness with OTC hemorrhoid ointments or suppositories that reduce swelling.
  • Make changes that help reduce constipation if that’s causing your hemorrhoids.
See home treatments

When you may need a provider

  • Hemorrhoids don’t go away in 1–2 weeks, or keep returning.
  • Frequent bleeding, trouble sitting, or pain when sitting.
See care providers

Emergency Care

Arrow Icon.

Call 911 or go to the ER if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe bleeding
  • Severe Pain
  • Fever
  • Feeling faint or lightheaded

Hemorrhoids quiz

Take a quiz to find out if you have hemorrhoids.

Take hemorrhoids quiz

What is a hemorrhoid?

Hemorrhoids happen when the small blood vessels around your anus become swollen and inflamed.

Internal hemorrhoids are a swelling of blood vessels inside your rectum. (The rectum is the last part of your large intestine, right before your anus.) External hemorrhoids bulge out on the skin around your anus.

The blood vessels can become swollen for different reasons, but usually because you’re straining when you’re trying to go to the bathroom. Though it can happen even if you don’t strain.

Hemorrhoids (also called piles) are very common. Typically, internal hemorrhoids bleed and external hemorrhoids are painful. They usually go away, and you can treat any symptoms with over-the-counter medications.

Hemorrhoid symptoms

Internal hemorrhoids usually aren’t painful, but you may have blood in your stool (poop). You’ll see blood in the toilet or on the toilet paper upon wiping.

External hemorrhoids cause itching and pain around your anus.

The symptoms of hemorrhoids can be confused with anal fissures or intestinal diseases such as intestinal polyps. Your doctor will be able to help diagnose what is causing your symptoms by examining you for hemorrhoids. If you’re experiencing pain or bleeding with bowel movements, it’s important to talk to your doctor about this, even if you think it’s just hemorrhoids. There are other more serious illnesses that cause blood in bowel movements.

Main symptoms

External hemorrhoids

Internal hemorrhoids

  • Rectal bleeding: small amounts of bright red blood during bowel movements or on wiping

Pro Tip

People often don’t speak with their doctors about this, but tell your doctor about your bowel habits. Are they regular? Are they soft? Are you straining? —Dr. Shria Kumar

Hemorrhoids quiz

Take a quiz to find out if you have hemorrhoids.

Take hemorrhoids quiz

Hemorrhoid causes

When you put pressure on your abdomen, it can cause the blood vessels around your rectum and anus to swell. Part of this is normal, but on occasion, it causes the tissue to stretch, bulge, and swell. That leads to the itching, discomfort, and pain.

As you age, you may be more susceptible because the tissue around your anus and rectum become weaker. These are some of the factors that can lead to hemorrhoids:

  • Straining for a long time while trying to go to the bathroom
  • Sitting for a long time on the toilet
  • You have hard stool or are constipated
  • Being pregnant
  • Having a vaginal delivery
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having a build-up of fluid in your abdomen (called ascites)
  • Not eating enough fiber
  • Lifting heavy objects

Dr. Rx

Is there blood on the toilet paper, particularly after a hard bowel movement? Itching? Are you constipated normally? What are your bowel habits like? Are there other symptoms? Things like fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, are unlikely to be caused by hemorrhoids. —Dr. Kumar

How do hemorrhoids go away?

There are a number of over-the-counter treatment options that can help the itching, pain, and discomfort. First, you should talk to your doctor if you think you are experiencing hemorrhoid symptoms. They may recommend some of the following:

  • A stool softener can help reduce straining. This can help prevent hemorrhoids and makes it less painful to pass stool when you have them.
  • Laxatives are helpful if you are not having regular bowel movements.
  • Topical (applied externally) medications (like Preparation H) can reduce the discomfort and pain, and help shrink the hemorrhoids.
  • You can also soak daily in a warm bath or a sitz bath (a warm, shallow bath that fits over your toilet).

It can take anywhere from a few days to over a week for the swelling to go down and the symptoms to go away. If your symptoms do not get better with these treatments, your doctor may suggest an in-office procedure to remove your hemorrhoids. These procedures are usually done using a local anesthetic, but depending on the procedure may cause some pain and discomfort following the procedure.

Ready to treat your hemorrhoids?

We show you only the best treatments for your condition and symptoms—all vetted by our medical team. And when you’re not sure what’s wrong, Buoy can guide you in the right direction.See all treatment options
Illustration of two people discussing treatment.

Hemorrhoids quiz

Take a quiz to find out if you have hemorrhoids.

Take hemorrhoids quiz

Pro Tip

A common misconception is that once you have hemorrhoids they never go away. In fact, they can go away! Explore all the options, which focus on avoiding constipation and hard bowel movements. If you’re having pain, topical treatment can be given as well. If nothing helps, there are small procedural options that a gastroenterologist or a surgeon can offer to treat your hemorrhoids. —Dr. Kumar

How to prevent recurring hemorrhoids

If your hemorrhoids keep coming back, you can make some changes to your diet to help soften your stool and prevent straining.

Drink plenty of water and eat a high-fiber diet. Foods like bananas, oranges, apples, berries, dark green leafy vegetables, beans, and legumes are high in fiber.

In addition, exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight. Avoid lifting heavy objects, which puts a strain on your abdomen.

Try not to strain during your bowel movements, and ensure you are having soft, daily bowel movements. Try to avoid sitting on the toilet for a long time as this puts pressure on your rectum and anus.

Share your story
Once your story receives approval from our editors, it will exist on Buoy as a helpful resource for others who may experience something similar.
The stories shared below are not written by Buoy employees. Buoy does not endorse any of the information in these stories. Whenever you have questions or concerns about a medical condition, you should always contact your doctor or a healthcare provider.
Therapeutic Endoscopy Fellow, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX
Dr. Kumar is a gastroenterologist, who completed her fellowship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She received her undergraduate degrees in Religious Studies and Chemistry from New York University (2010) and graduated from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine (2014), where she was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. She is completing her t...
Read full bio

Was this article helpful?

29 people found this helpful
Tooltip Icon.
Read this next
Slide 1 of 4