toilet

How long do hemorrhoids last?

CDHF

Written by: CDHF

Updated: February 15th, 2024

Hemorrhoids are a condition that can be extremely uncomfortable and irritating. They are typically a result of repeated pressure to the rectal or anal veins. As pressure increases, blood begins to pool, causing veins to swell and surrounding tissues to stretch, creating a hemorrhoid.

If you’re dealing with a hemorrhoid, you’re not alone. Between 60-70% of Canadians will develop hemorrhoids at some point in their lifetime (1). So, how long do they last? Keep reading to find out!

What are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are clusters of vascular tissue, smooth muscle, and connective tissue along the anal canal (2). There are two types of hemorrhoids, internal (found in the lower rectum) and external (found under the skin around the anus). Internal hemorrhoids are found in the lower rectum. Internal hemorrhoids are classified by their degree of prolapse (3):

Grade I: No prolapse

Grade II: Prolapse that goes back in on its own

Grade III: Prolapse that must be pushed back in by the patient

Grade IV: Prolapse that is very painful and cannot be pushed back in by the patient

It is possible to experience external and internal hemorrhoids at the same time(1). Internal hemorrhoids are usually painless, while external hemorrhoids can cause irritation (4).

Symptoms of Hemorrhoids

You may be surprised to know that many people who experience mild symptoms of hemorrhoids treat them without medical advice (5). Some may have a hemorrhoid and not even be aware of it! One study found that a considerable number of people with hemorrhoids do not complain about symptoms (6). Common symptoms include small amount of bleeding, itching or irritation around the anal area and anal protrusion (4).

How long do hemorrhoids last?

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all timeline for those suffering from hemorrhoids, and how long they last will vary from person to person. Your physician can advise the treatment plan best for you. As seen in the above graphic, prolapsed hemorrhoids can take longer to heal and may require treatment from a doctor.

It’s important to note that if you’re experiencing any kind of rectal bleeding with bright red blood, unexplained weight loss, or if you’re stool is dark or tarry in color (which may be a sign of bleeding) you should see your doctor (7).

If you experience hemorrhoids regularly, you can make some lifestyle and dietary changes that may alleviate the pain.

Dietary changes to help with healing and prevention include:

Lifestyle changes to help with healing and prevention include (9):

Over the counter remedies can assist in relieving symptoms of hemorrhoids. These include:

Can Hemorrhoids Return?

For some people, hemorrhoids may be recurring. Hemorrhoids may return due to (4):

While some people experience minor hemorrhoids, those with more severe symptoms of hemorrhoids may require surgical intervention such as rubber band litigation (12).

Rubber band litigation is the process commonly used for internal hemorrhoids, where a small elastic band is placed around the base of a hemorrhoid, to shrink and the hemorrhoid and surrounding tissue. This procedure is usually treated between four-to-six-week intervals and is effective for 8 out of 10 patients (13).

In rare cases, where hemorrhoids return after rubber band litigation, patients may require a hemorrhoidectomy (removing blood vessels around external and internal hemorrhoids). Hemorrhoidectomies have a low complication rate and cure 95% of cases (14).

When Should You See a Doctor?

Symptoms of hemorrhoids may be an indication of another underlying health problem such as colorectal cancer. Speak with a healthcare professional if you experience:

External hemorrhoids may not require any specific treatment unless they cause discomfort. Low-graded internal hemorrhoids can be treated with medications, dietary and lifestyle modifications and through procedures such as rubber band litigation (9). A healthcare provider can provide personalized recommendations based on the patients’ age, overall health and medical history.

Conclusion

Hemorrhoids are very common, and although they are not usually severe, we know they can be extremely irritating and often painful. How long hemorrhoids last varies from person to person, but you may find comfort in knowing that a range of over-the-counter remedies and medical options are available to treat them at any stage. 

hemorrhoids infographic

References

  1. Canadian Digestive Health Foundation. (2023.). Hemorrhoids. Retrieved from: https://cdhf.ca/what-are-hemorrhoids/
  2. Sun Z., Migaly J. (2016). Retrieved from https://www.thieme-connect.com/products/ejournals/html/10.1055/s-0035-1568144
  3. American Cancer Society of Colon & Rectal Regions (2020). Hemorrhoids, Expanded Version. Retrieved from: https://fascrs.org/patients/diseases-and-conditions/a-z/hemorrhoids-expanded-version
  4. Canadian Digestive Health Foundation. (2023). What Causes Hemorrhoids? Retrieved from: https://cdhf.ca/en/what-causes-hemorrhoids/
  5. Mounsey et. al. (2011). Hemorrhoids. Retrieved from: https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2011/0715/p204.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=transaction
  6. Riss S. et al. (2012). The prevalence of  hemorrhoids in adults. Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21932016/
  7. American Cancer Society (2020). Retrieved from: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/types/colon-rectal-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/signs-and-symptoms.html
  8. Canadian Digestive Health Foundation (2023). What does Fibre do for Digestive Health? Retrieved from: https://cdhf.ca/en/what-does-fibre-do-for-digestive-health/
  9. World Journal of Gastroenterology (2015). Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4541377/
  10. Mott T, Latimer K, Edwards C. (2018).  Retrieved from: https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2018/0201/p172.html#afp20180201p172-b5
  11. Ulrich (2022). Retrieved from: https://www.goodrx.com/conditions/hemorrhoids/what-works-for-hemorrhoids
  12. Harvard Health Publishing (2021). Retrieved from: https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/hemorrhoids_and_what_to_do_about_them
  13.  HealthLinkBC (2022). Retrieved from: https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/rubber-band-ligation-hemorrhoids

Related Articles:

View all News & Articles

toilet

How long do hemorrhoids last?

treating hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids: Prevention and Treatment

bathroom with toilet, garbage can and hanging toilet paper against pink walls

What Causes Hemorrhoids?

hemorrhoids animation

What are Hemorrhoids? Animation

hemorrhoids

How Do I Know if I Have a Hemorrhoid?

What are Hemorrhoids?

Hemovel hemorrhoid treatment

Hemovel – CDHF Certified Product