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Frequently asked questions

Hemorrhoids, also called piles, are swollen and inflamed veins in the lower rectum that are made up of muscle, blood vessels, and elastic fibers. There are two main types of hemorrhoids: internal hemorrhoids, which can develop inside the rectum, and external hemorrhoids, which are under the skin around the anus.

Hemorrhoids are very common – almost three out of four adults will have hemorrhoids from time to time. Many people get hemorrhoids in older adulthood, though people of any age can experience this problem.

Hemorrhoids are common in both men and women and affect about 1 in 20 Americans. About half of adults older than age 50 have hemorrhoids.

Hemorrhoids have a few causes, the main one being too much pressure in the rectum. This can include:

  • eating a low-fiber diet
  • constipation
  • chronic diarrhea
  • poor hydration
  • pregnancy and childbirth
  • obesity
  • regular heavy lifting of weights or heavy objects, and
  • longer time on the toilet.

If left untreated, hemorrhoids can worsen over time to the point where they can require surgery to remove.

It’s also important to note that as you age, your risk of hemorrhoids increases, as the tissue that supports the veins in your rectum and anus weakens over time.

  • Hemorrhoids are often painful, particularly in the anus or rectum. If you notice that the pain worsens during a bowel movement, this is because stool passing through applies pressure on the already-inflamed hemorrhoid.
  • Hemorrhoids can cause a small amount of bright red blood on toilet paper or in your stool. However, bleeding can have many causes unconnected to hemorrhoids, so it’s good to talk to a doctor about this if the issue is recurring or worrisome.
  • Hemorrhoids can cause rectal itching — it’s one of the most common (and irritating) hemorrhoid symptoms. Left untreated, continual scratching and wiping of the area can lead to worsening symptoms.

The most common symptom of hemorrhoids is bleeding. You may see bright red blood on toilet paper or blood in your stool. Rectal pain, burning, and itching are other symptoms. You may feel a swollen area around the anal canal or a bulge coming out, requiring hemorrhoids to be pushed back in.

Don’t wait! You should talk to your doctor if you suspect you have hemorrhoids so that treatment can begin. If you experience any symptoms that could be related to hemorrhoids, talk to your doctor.

Common symptoms include:

  • Bleeding
  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Soiling
  • Pain
  • Bulging

Complications from hemorrhoids are rare, but they can happen. It’s possible that anemia could arise through chronic blood loss due to hemorrhoids. Internal hemorrhoids in particular can be “strangulated,” or have their blood supply cut off, which can cause pain. And finally, a hemorrhoid can become thrombosed if a blood clot is formed. While this isn’t life-threatening, it’s certainly painful and may need to be drained.

There are many preventative measures you can take to prevent hemorrhoids from developing. The most important part of hemorrhoid prevention is keeping your stool soft so it can pass easily.

  • Eat high-fiber foods. This includes whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. This can help soften the stool and increase its bulk, which can help avoid straining that can induce hemorrhoids. You can also consider fiber supplements to reach the recommended amount of fiber in your diet (20 to 30 grams a day).
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Drinking six to eight glasses of water and other liquids every day helps the stool remain soft.
  • Exercise. Preventing constipation and reducing pressure on veins are paramount in preventing hemorrhoids, and can be accomplished by spending less time on your bottom or standing in one place.
  • Reduce straining. Avoid long periods of sitting, particularly on the toilet.

Rubber band ligation is a very common procedure to treat hemorrhoids. During the procedure, your doctor will use an applicator like the Snyder HemBand to place a gentle, medical-grade rubber band around the base of your hemorrhoid.

The band will cut off the blood supply or circulation to your hemorrhoid. This will cause your hemorrhoid to shrink and eventually fall off (along with the rubber band) with a bowel movement in 1-3 days following your procedure, usually without you noticing it. Best of all, the procedure takes less than a minute!

Snyder Hemband is a system that allows a doctor to safely wrap a gentle medical rubber band around the base of hemorrhoids. The soft rubber band generates the compression around the hemorrhoids reducing the blood supply which causes it to shrink and eventually fall off. It is a painless procedure with only minor discomfort on occasion. The banding is done above the dentate line, a section of rectum with a very low number of pain-sensitive nerves making the procedure painless. The rubber band is placed around the hemorrhoid in less than a minute.

For most patients, the process is painless. Banding is done above the dentate line, a section of the rectum with a very low number of pain-sensitive nerves.

It takes less than a minute to place a band around the base of the hemorrhoid.

Most major health insurance plans cover banding, including Medicare, Medicaid, and TriCare. If you have a private health insurance plan, the hemorrhoid clinic can verify your coverage before your banding.

No, banding does not require any bowel cleansing preparation. Banding is done in the exam room of a normal doctor’s office without anesthesia.