Signs and Symptoms of Hemorrhoids

Common symptoms of hemorrhoids include the following:

  • Anal itching
  • Blood in the stool (may be visible [gross] or microscopic [occult])
  • Blood on toilet tissue or in the toilet after a bowel movement
  • Pain and/or swelling around the anus

Rectal bleeding may indicate a more serious medical condition (e.g., ulcer, diverticular disease, colorectal cancer), so it is important to contact a health care provider to determine the underlying cause for blood in the stool.

Complications of Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids usually do not lead to serious complications; however, minor complications can sometimes occur. A blood clot (thrombosis) may form in an external hemorrhoid, leading to increased swelling and pain—especially during bowel movements.

In some cases, an internal hemorrhoid swells and protrudes through the anal opening (called a prolapsed hemorrhoid). If a prolapsed hemorrhoid becomes trapped outside of the rectum, medical treatment usually is required. Infection also can occur as a result of hemorrhoids, causing the skin surrounding the anus to become inflamed and irritated.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 25 Dec 2008

Last Modified: 18 Sep 2015