Hemorrhoids are swollen, irritated veins around the anus or rectum that can last for varying lengths of time. In some people, hemorrhoids clear up on their own after a few days. In other cases, they can become a regular occurrence.
Some people may need medication or medical procedures to minimize their symptoms and shrink the hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids can cause pain and make simple activities, such as sitting or walking, uncomfortable or challenging.
In this article, learn more about how long hemorrhoids last and how to get relief.
There is no set duration for hemorrhoids. Small hemorrhoids may clear up without any treatment within a few days.
Large, external hemorrhoids may take longer to heal and can cause significant pain and discomfort. If hemorrhoids have not resolved within a few days, it is best to see a doctor for treatment.
Risk factors for severe or recurrent hemorrhoids include:
- not getting enough fiber
- being overweight or obese
- being pregnant
- having chronic constipation
- having chronic diarrhea
- aging muscles
- sitting on the toilet for too long
- straining while having a bowel movement
- having anal intercourse
- overusing or abusing enemas or laxatives
Some of the above factors can also make it difficult for hemorrhoids to heal, allowing the problem to persist for longer.
Some hemorrhoids do not require treatment and will clear up on their own within a few days. During this time, a person should rest and avoid doing anything that strains or puts pressure on the area.
Over-the-counter (OTC) treatments may work for some people. Medicated creams, such as phenylephrine gel (Preparation H), can help relieve itching and discomfort.
If OTC treatments have little or no effect, a doctor may be able to prescribe more effective ointments.
People who often have hemorrhoids or experience complications, such as blood in the stool, should speak to a doctor. The doctor may recommend alternative treatments or run tests to rule out underlying causes.
People who experience severe hemorrhoids may need more intensive treatment, including medical procedures. These procedures may include:
- Rubber band ligation, which is the most common nonsurgical procedure for removing hemorrhoids. A doctor will place a small, tight band around the hemorrhoid to cut off circulation to the tissue and allow it to fall off.
- Sclerotherapy, during which a doctor injects a chemical medication into the hemorrhoid to shrink it. Doctors may also use heat, light, or freezing temperatures to achieve this.
- Surgical removal, which doctors only recommend in cases where hemorrhoids do not respond to at-home or in-office methods. Surgery is usually successful and prevents the hemorrhoids from coming back.
For people who get hemorrhoids regularly, some dietary and lifestyle changes may help with healing and prevention.
Straining during bowel movements is a common cause of hemorrhoids, but people can make dietary adjustments to reduce their need to strain.
Including plenty of fiber-rich foods in the diet is generally beneficial. Plant fibers from fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains help collect water in the stool, making it softer and easier to pass.
Supplementing the diet with soluble fiber, such as methylcellulose (Citrucel) or psyllium (Metamucil), may reduce constipation.
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day helps ensure that the body has enough water for healthy digestion, which can also ease constipation.
Making a few small lifestyle changes can help minimize the symptoms of hemorrhoids. Some tips include:
- Using a small stool to prop up the legs while having a bowel movement. This will change the position of the anal canal, which may make it easier to pass stool.
- Avoiding delaying a bowel movement when the need arises.
- Taking regular showers.
- Gently washing the anus in the shower after each bowel movement or using moist toilet wipes or water from a bidet.
- Taking a warm sitz bath to relieve symptoms.
- Sitting on an ice pack to reduce pain or discomfort.
- Exercising regularly to help stimulate bowel movements.
Spending too much time on the toilet can cause the blood to pool in the veins in the rectum or put unnecessary pressure on them.
While making dietary changes can reduce toilet time, people should also avoid taking a smartphone, newspaper, or book into the restroom.
Hemorrhoids come from small clusters of veins near the mucous membranes of the anus and lower rectum. They develop when the veins become swollen or irritated.
Internal hemorrhoids appear inside the lower rectum and are not visible to the naked eye. This type of hemorrhoid may not cause any pain or irritation, but a person may have other symptoms.
External hemorrhoids appear on the outside of the anus and commonly cause pain and discomfort.
The symptoms of hemorrhoids may vary from person to person, but often include:
- a lump external to the anus
- pain or discomfort
- itching, even after wiping the area clean
- swelling near the anus
- a burning sensation when having a bowel movement or at rest
A person may also notice blood in the toilet or stool.
Hemorrhoids are a common problem during pregnancy. The extra weight that a woman carries during pregnancy may place a strain on the veins in the anus and rectum.
As the uterus grows, it also puts pressure on the veins near the rectum.
Hormonal changes may relax the veins in this area, which can also make hemorrhoids more likely.
Hormonal and physical changes can also cause gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation or diarrhea, which increase a person's risk of hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids are usually not severe, but they can be bothersome and make daily life difficult.
How long hemorrhoids last can vary from person to person, but a range of OTC remedies and medical options are available to treat them.
There are also some simple changes that people can make to their diet and lifestyle to achieve symptom relief and prevent new hemorrhoids from forming.