Many people suffer in silence that have hemorrhoids because they are too embarrassed to see a doctor. Social taboos are associated with this part of our body and we are conditioned to keep any problems with bathroom habits to ourselves. The fear of being ridiculed for having hemorrhoids is enough to keep this condition in our own personal closet forever. Yet, if you suspect that you have hemorrhoids, you do need to get a diagnosis from your doctor. Remember that doctors are not there to embarrass you, and they routinely perform these examinations all the time. There are many other conditions that could be causing your symptoms, such as rectal cancer or anal fissures. Your life is too valuable to gamble with, so always go to your doctor to make sure what you are dealing with is a hemorrhoid. It is one thing to be embarrassed, and quite another thing to have a different disease which could be life-threatening.
The doctor will be able to visually identify prolapsed and external hemorrhoids, and then, will examine the interior of the rectum. If you have internal hemorrhoids they usually can be felt by a digital rectal exam. With this exam, the doctor will insert a gloved lubricated finger into the rectum where they can feel any abnormalities. If the doctor needs to examine the inside of the rectum visually, they will use an anoscope. An anoscope is a hollow lighted tube useful for viewing internal hemorrhoids.
To rule out any other causes of gastro-intestinal bleeding, the doctor may have you return for a more complete examine of the rectum and colon. A sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy are diagnostic procedures that involve the use of lighted, flexible tubes inserted through the rectum. These two exams would not be done on your first visit, unless you have gone through the pre-op care required beforehand. Your digestive system would need to be cleansed of all fecal matter for these exams. A sigmoidoscopy can exam half the colon for abnormalities, and it is usually done in the doctor’s office. In contrast, a colonoscopy exams the whole length of the colon, and is performed in a hospital or outpatient surgical setting.
written by Joy Seeman
© Hemorrhoid Information Center 2009 / H.I.C. Digestive Health