Hemorrhoids are a simple condition to diagnose. It is likely that your doctor will be able to diagnose them with a single trip. This is because it is fairly obvious when somebody is suffering from hemorrhoids. We never recommend that you try to ‘self-diagnose’ the condition. This is, in part, down to the fact that there are some rather serious conditions which can lead to hemorrhoids and you want to ensure that you rule those out.
On this page, we are going to look at how the doctor will diagnose hemorrhoids.
It will all begin with a rectal examination. They will check to see whether there are any visible hemorrhoids. If there are not, and you still feel as if you are in pain, then the doctor may be able to check for internal hemorrhoids too.
It is worth noting that some people will find the ‘check’ for internal hemorrhoids a little bit uncomfortable. A small device will need to be inserted into the rectum for it. It is not going to be painful, just a little bit of discomfort. Your doctor will go slowly, though. If you do experience any pain, then make sure that you inform them.
Throughout this physical exam, they be looking for the following:
- Whether there are any lumps or swelling in the area. This is the ‘big one’ when it comes to determining whether you have hemorrhoids or not.
- Whether the hemorrhoids have prolapsed. Basically, the hemorrhoids will have ‘fallen out’. They are still attached to the inside of your anus, they have just got so large that they can no longer stay inside.
- Whether there is any leakage of stool around the area.
- Whether there is any leakage of mucus around the area.
- If the skin around the anus has been irritated.
- Whether there are small tears in the anus which may cause some bleeding.
It is likely that you will also be asked questions about your overall medical history. This is because your doctor will be able to ascertain what may be causing the hemorrhoids. They will ask you about any medical conditions that you are suffering from, as well as for you to give a brief overview of what your diet is.
Remember; hemorrhoids do not just appear. There is always a reason they spring up. You can’t treat them until you have dealt with the reason they occurred in the first place. This means the doctor will need to know whether you have any medical ailments which could have resulted in it (you can find out more about those elsewhere on our website). They can also look to see whether the food you are consuming e.g. a lack of high-fiber foods in your diet, could have resulted in the hemorrhoids.
It is unlikely that the hemorrhoids will need to be diagnosed beyond the basic rectal examination. The only time that this will need to happen is if the doctor suspects that there is something more at play than just simple hemorrhoids. If this is the case, they will need to carry out a proctoscopy.
With a proctoscopy, a proctoscope, which is essentially a long thing tube with a light on the end, will be inserted into the anus. This will give the doctor the ability to see deep into the anal cavity. They will also be able to inspect the bottom of the large intestine.
It is rare that the proctoscopy can be carried out at the GP’s office. This is because it requires very specific training and equipment to carry out. Instead, the doctor will likely send you to the hospital or a local doctor who does have the ability to carry out the checks. This is why carrying out a proctoscopy is often going to be a ‘last resort’ type of thing as it will put a lot of effort on your part.
Categorizing the Hemorrhoids
Throughout the course of your diagnosis, the doctor will work to categorize the hemorrhoids. The category will be dependent on the severity and the location.
Hemorrhoids can develop internally in the upper two-thirds of your anal canal (internal hemorrhoids) or externally in the lower third, closest to your anus (external hemorrhoids). The nerves in the lower part can transmit pain signals, while the nerves in the upper part can’t.
By knowing the category, the doctor can provide you with advice on ways in which you can move forward with treatment.
These are the categories:
- First degree hemorrhoids: very small swellings which start in the inside of the anus. You can’t see them from outside of the anus. They may cause a small amount of pain, but nothing too drastic.
- Second degree hemorrhoids: larger lumps. These may pop out of the anus but they are never going to stay outside for long. If they do pop out, it will be when you pass a stool. They will then go back inside. The bleeding may be a touch more severe.
- Third degree: this is where there are small lumps which permanently are outside of the anus. However, they should be small enough that you can push them back inside if you wish. They will likely fall out shortly afterwards, though.
- Fourth degree: larger hemorrhoids which can’t be pushed back inside. This is the most severe case of hemorrhoids and it may cause you a lot of pain if you are not careful.
Obviously, first degree hemorrhoids are going to be the easiest to treat. See here how to treat external hemorrhoids. In an ideal world, the diagnosis of hemorrhoids will be given when it is at the first degree stage. However, because the symptoms are going to be so hard to spot for the sufferer, it is unlikely that this is going to be the case. Most people start to have their hemorrhoids spotted around the second or third degree.
Remember; if you believe that you are suffering from hemorrhoids, you are advised to seek treatment as soon as possible. The earlier you seek treatment, the less pain you will be dealing with, and the easier the hemorrhoids are going to be to eradicate for you.