Which clinical history findings are characteristic of hemorrhoids?

Updated: Sep 24, 2019
  • Author: Kyle R Perry, MD; Chief Editor: John Geibel, MD, DSc, MSc, AGAF  more...
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Most laypersons and many practitioners attribute all perianal symptoms to hemorrhoids. The astute clinician can often listen to a patient's description of symptoms and ascertain the source of the problem or condition before confirmatory examination. Nonhemorrhoidal causes of symptoms (eg, fissure, abscess, fistula, pruritus ani, condylomata, and viral or bacterial skin infection) need to be excluded.

The most common presentation of hemorrhoids is rectal bleeding, pain, pruritus, or prolapse. Because these symptoms are extremely nonspecific and may be seen in a number of anorectal diseases, the physician must therefore rely on a thorough history to help narrow the differential diagnosis and must perform an adequate physical examination (including anoscopy when indicated) to confirm the diagnosis.

Familial predisposition, diet, a history of constipation or diarrhea, and a history of prolonged sitting or heavy lifting are also relevant, as are weight loss, abdominal pain, or any change in appetite or bowel habits. The presence of pruritus or any discharge should also be noted.

Inflammatory bowel diseases (eg, ulcerative colitis, Crohn disease) need to be ruled out as the cause of symptoms. [13] Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and other immunosuppressive diseases can also alter treatment plans.

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