Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in lower rectum or anus. They can cause pain, itching and anal bleeding. However, these symptoms can also be caused by other medical conditions, and a doctor should be relied on for a diagnosis.
The first step in diagnosing hemorrhoids is getting a complete medical history. After asking a series of questions about your symptoms, your physician may also:
- Perform a thorough exam of the anal region.
- Use a gloved finger to perform an internal examination of the lower rectum.
- Perform an internal exam with an anoscope, a three-inch long, tapered, hollow tube.
In most cases, these tests will be sufficient for diagnosing hemorrhoids. However, patients who are 50 or older or have other risk factors for colon cancer may require additional testing to rule out other issues. Additional tests may include:
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy – an internal exam using a lighted tube.
- Colonoscopy – a procedure that uses a lighted tube and tiny video camera to examine the colon.
- Barium enema – an X-ray of the colon and rectum.
These tests are rarely used for diagnosing hemorrhoids, but may be necessary if you have risk factors for other conditions. The symptoms commonly associated with hemorrhoids may also be caused by colitis, anal fissures, polyps or colon cancer. Thorough testing will help your doctor make a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.