Hemorrhoids are simple to treat and a very common condition. But what about diagnosing them? The symptoms of hemorrhoids can vary from person to person, and some may show no symptoms at all while others are similar to other conditions.
There are two initial methods for diagnosing a patient with hemorrhoids:
- Digital Examination
- Visual Inspection
Walk Patients Through Diagnosis
Examinations can cause stress and anxiety in patients. Before you begin digital or visual examinations to diagnose hemorrhoids, explain to them in simple terms what to expect and that this examination is very routine.
While performing the examination, let patients know what you’re doing and what you’ll do next. This will help alleviate any anxiety about the procedure.
Digital & Visual Examination
During a digital exam, a gloved, lubricated finger is inserted into the rectum. If hemorrhoids are present, you should feel abnormal growths that are the swollen veins. This is a signal that further testing is needed to not only diagnose hemorrhoids, but also rule out other conditions.
If swollen veins cannot be felt, you may also perform a visual examination with an anoscope, procotoscope, or sigmoidoscope. This will allow you to see any problems related to rectal bleeding as well as diagnose hemorrhoids that are too soft to be felt by a digital examination.
Rule Out Other Conditions
- Colon cancer
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
Ask your patient about any other symptoms they have been experiencing and whether any have changed or worsened. This could indicate a larger problem. Also reassure your patients that there is no need to worry about hemorrhoids leading to cancer since the two are unrelated.
Referring Patients To A Specialist
If hemorrhoids are diagnosed and can be treated via methods like rubber band ligation, it is advised to refer them to a doctor who specializes and is trained in proctology procedures for safe and effective treatment.
Remind patients that many hemorrhoids can heal on their own and to alleviate symptoms at home via methods like sitz baths and using topical treatments like hemorrhoid creams. Follow up with them to ensure their symptoms do not worsen.