Thrombosed hemorrhoids happen when sacs in the anal passage get pushed onto the outside of the anus and fill with blood clots. What are the symptoms of thrombosed hemorrhoids and what causes them?
Having thrombosed hemorrhoids can be painful. They may make everyday activities uncomfortable, such as walking, sitting, or going to the toilet.
Thrombosed hemorrhoids can affect anyone and are not a sign of being unhealthy. This article explores the symptoms, causes, and outlook for this common condition.
A person's anal canal is lined with blood vessels. When these blood vessels become dilated or swollen, they can form a hemorrhoid.
Hemorrhoids can be on the inside of the anal passage or form on the outside of the anus. Hemorrhoids on the inside are called internal hemorrhoids, and those on the outside are called external hemorrhoids.
Thrombosed hemorrhoids occur when either an internal or external hemorrhoid fills with blood clots. The name comes from the word "thrombosis," which means clotting. Thrombosed hemorrhoids can become tender and painful.
The symptoms of thrombosed hemorrhoids include:
- pain sitting, walking, or going to the toilet to pass a stool
- itching around the anus
- bleeding when passing a stool
- swelling or lumps around the anus
Thrombosed hemorrhoids can also become infected, which may lead to an abscess. An abscess can cause additional symptoms, including a fever.
Hemorrhoids are not a symptom of an underlying health concern but may be related to a person's diet.
A person may develop hemorrhoids when more pressure is put on their anal passage. This may be caused by:
- pushing too hard when trying to pass a stool
- having diarrhea
- not going to the toilet regularly
- being pregnant, as the weight of the baby may put pressure on veins
- giving birth, as the pressure can affect the anal passage
- sitting down for an extended period, for example, while traveling in a vehicle
Not every person who has external hemorrhoids will develop blood clots, but some do. Scientists do not yet understand why blood clots form in some external hemorrhoids.
Certain things can increase the risk of getting hemorrhoids, including:
- not eating enough fiber, which may lead to constipation
- sitting for extended periods
- getting older, as tissues become weaker as a person ages
A thrombectomy is usually used to treat thrombosed hemorrhoids. This is a small procedure where surgeons make a cut in the hemorrhoid and drain the blood.
The doctor will give a person anesthesia before they carry out the procedure, so they will not feel any pain.
This procedure is most effective if carried out a few days after blood clots develop in the hemorrhoid. As this is not always possible, other treatments may be needed.
If a thrombectomy is not effective, surgery may be required. There is a variety of surgical options available. These include:
- Hemorrhoidectomy: This is a surgery to remove the hemorrhoid, including the blood vessels and clot, and may be done under general anesthetic. It is more invasive than other options, so is only carried out in severe cases.
- Rubber band ligation: This is where an elastic band is put around the base of the hemorrhoid. This cuts off the blood supply and causes it to shrink over a period of several weeks.
- Stapled hemorrhoidopexy: This is where the hemorrhoids are stapled in place, while a person is under general anesthetic.
Some home treatments may reduce the pain and discomfort of hemorrhoids:
- Hemorrhoid cream: Applying an over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream can help relieve symptoms.
- Pain relievers: Taking over-the-counter painkillers can relieve pain.
- Sitz bath: Soaking the affected area in warm water several times a day and gently patting dry may help reduce symptoms.
- Ice treatment: Applying a cold compress or ice pack to the affected area may reduce pain and inflammation.
- Witch hazel: Applying witch hazel may reduce itching and pain in the affected area.
- Using wipes: Using wet wipes rather than toilet paper can reduce friction and cause less irritation in the affected area.
- Aloe vera: Aloe vera is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Applying pure aloe vera to the affected area may reduce inflammation.
- Stool softeners: The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends taking a stool softener or fiber supplement to treat hemorrhoids at home. This makes it easier to pass a stool, which reduces irritation.
- Wearing loose cotton clothing: A person should avoid wearing tight clothes made of artificial fabrics. Wearing loose cotton clothing can reduce irritation in the affected area and keep it dry.
It is not always possible to prevent hemorrhoids, but the following tips can reduce the risk:
- Eating high fiber foods: Examples include broccoli, bran flakes, whole-wheat pasta, and oatmeal. A high fiber diet helps keep bowel movements regular.
- Being more active: Avoiding sitting for extended periods and getting up to walk around every hour may help prevent hemorrhoids.
- Not pushing if constipated: If a person is constipated, it is a good idea for them to take a stool softener rather than pushing excessively.
- Drinking plenty of water: Keeping hydrated can help to reduce constipation.
Thrombosed hemorrhoids can be itchy, painful, and uncomfortable if left untreated, but symptoms can often be relieved using home remedies.
Where this is not the case, there are some medical treatments available. Rarely, a person may require surgery with general anesthetic.
Treatments for hemorrhoids are usually effective. If a person experiences recurrent hemorrhoids, it is essential that they discuss this with their doctor.