Can Hemorrhoids Burst?

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Can hemorrhoids burst? How long do they take to go away? You may find it awkward or uncomfortable to talk with your doctor about hemorrhoids. But this is a common condition, and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Read on for answers to some common questions about hemorrhoids, along with tips for at-home treatments to ease your symptoms. 

What Are Hemorrhoids?

You may think of hemorrhoids as a health problem, but they’re actually normal structures in everyone’s body. They’re small cushions made up of muscle and tissues that help to close the end of your anus. This is important for controlling when you have a bowel movement. 

Hemorrhoids only cause problems when they get swollen due to added pressure. The condition known as hemorrhoids (or piles) happens when the blood vessels in and around your anus and lower rectum get enlarged and irritated. This can cause symptoms including:

  • Itching or irritation around your anus
  • Pain or discomfort around your anus, especially when sitting
  • Swelling or hard, tender lumps around your anus 
  • Bright red blood in your stool, on the toilet paper or in the bowl after you poop

You may also have a prolapsed hemorrhoid. This is when an hemorrhoid from inside your anus falls through the anal opening. This can be painful and uncomfortable. 

Are Hemorrhoids Contagious?

No, hemorrhoids are not contagious. They don’t spread from person to person, and you can’t “catch” hemorrhoids or pass them to anyone else. 

The exact cause of hemorrhoids is unknown. But they usually happen because of straining that puts pressure on your abdomen and lower body. This pressure causes veins in the anus or rectum to become swollen and inflamed.

You may be more likely to get hemorrhoids if you:

  • Strain during bowel movements
  • Spend too long sitting on the toilet (like while reading or looking at your phone)
  • Lift weights or heavy objects regularly
  • Don’t get enough fiber in your diet (since fiber is key to healthy bowel movements)
  • Spend a lot of time sitting and don’t get enough physical activity
  • Have a family history of hemorrhoids

Other health conditions can also raise your risk for hemorrhoids, including:

  • Pregnancy — Pregnancy can cause weight gain, constipation, hormone changes and other changes that put pressure on the veins in the anus and rectum.
  • Chronic constipation — When you’re constipated, you may push down harder in order to poop. 
  • Chronic diarrhea — When you have diarrhea, you may sit on the toilet more often or for longer periods than normal. 

Hemorrhoids are also more common in older adults. This is because the supporting tissues in your anus and rectum tend to get weaker with age.

Can Hemorrhoids Burst?

Yes, hemorrhoids can burst. This can happen when a blood clot forms inside the hemorrhoid and blocks blood flow through the veins. But since the buildup of blood and pressure is usually very painful, most people get treatment before the hemorrhoid bursts. 

If a hemorrhoid does burst, it will usually cause bleeding that lasts for a few seconds or minutes. If the bleeding lasts for longer than 10 minutes, get medical help. 

While a burst hemorrhoid can be painful, most people don’t need any treatment. But this can lead to infection, because a burst hemorrhoid creates an open wound near an area with a lot of bacteria. So, it’s important to keep the area clean while the hemorrhoid is healing.

Never try to “pop” a hemorrhoid yourself. This can cause bleeding and scarring and increase the risk of serious infections.

How Can I Treat Hemorrhoids?

You can treat most hemorrhoids yourself at home. Try the following tips:

  • Eat more fiber — Try to get at least 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day. You can get fiber by eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Fiber helps to soften and bulk up your stool, so that it passes more easily and takes the pressure off your hemorrhoids.
  • Try fiber supplements — You can also consider taking a fiber supplement like Metamucil to help you get enough fiber. 
  • Drink more water — Stay more hydrated by getting plenty of water each day. Fluids also help soften your stool and ease pressure.
  • Adjust your bathroom routine — Avoid sitting on the toilet for long periods of time or straining during bowel movements. Try using toilet paper with lotion or using wet wipes to gently clean the area around your hemorrhoids.
  • Try a sitz bath — Sitz baths can help you bathe and clean your anal area. You can do this with a low level of water in a clean bathtub or using a special plastic device that fits over your toilet. Bathe the area around your hemorrhoids in plain warm water for 10 to 20 minutes several times a day. 
  • Use over-the-counter treatments — You can find several medicines at the pharmacy that may provide pain relief and help clear up hemorrhoids faster. These include hemorrhoid creams, suppositories (pills) that you insert inside your rectum, and numbing pads. You can also try pain relievers like ibuprofen to ease your discomfort.

How Long Does It Take for Hemorrhoids to Go Away?

With at-home treatments, most people find that their hemorrhoid symptoms improve or go away completely within a week. If you don’t get relief from your symptoms after a week — or if you experience severe pain or bleeding — see your doctor for treatment.

It’s a good idea to talk with your doctor if:

  • You have symptoms of hemorrhoids that last for more than a week, even with at-home treatments
  • Your symptoms have gotten worse or you’ve noticed new symptoms
  • You’re bleeding from your rectum during bowel movements

When Do Hemorrhoids Become an Emergency?

If you have blood in your stool, it’s important to see your doctor and find out what’s causing it. This can be from hemorrhoids, but it may also be a sign of more serious conditions, including certain cancers. Also tell your doctor if you have changes in the frequency of your bowel movements or in the color or consistency of your stool.

Sometimes the symptoms of hemorrhoids can be an emergency. Get medical help right away if you have:

  • Severe rectal bleeding (a large amount of blood or continuous bleeding)
  • Severe pain (including pain in your rectum or abdomen)
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness or faintness
  • Nausea and vomiting

How Can You Avoid Hemorrhoids in the First Place?

Hemorrhoids are a very common condition, and it’s not always possible to prevent them. But you can lower your risk of getting hemorrhoids by following these simple dos and don’ts.

Try to:

  • Eat a healthy balanced diet, with plenty of fiber and water
  • Consider taking fiber supplements if you have trouble getting enough fiber
  • Stay active and try to maintain a healthy weight
  • Try to limit time spent sitting on the toilet to no more than 10 to 15 minutes

Try not to:

  • Delay bowel movements
  • Strain, push down or hold your breath during bowel movements
  • Sit for too long at a time, especially on the toilet

And remember, hemorrhoids are nothing to be embarrassed about. So if you have questions or concerns about hemorrhoids, don’t hesitate to talk with your doctor.