Because the symptoms of haemorrhoids are similar to those of bowel cancer, it’s important to visit a doctor to get a proper diagnosis.
Tell your doctor about any unusual symptoms you have been having, such as:
- blood or mucus in your stools
- changes in your bowel movements
- changes in the colour of your stools
- recent weight loss.
Diagnosis of haemorrhoids usually involves an examination of the back passage to look for any swollen blood vessels. Your doctor may conduct one of the following tests.
- Digital rectal examination, where your doctor puts on gloves and places a lubricated finger inside the back passage to gently feel for any abnormalities. This is likely to be uncomfortable but will probably not be painful.
- Proctoscopy, where your doctor examines the inside of the rectum using a proctoscope (a hollow tube with a tiny light at the end) to look for any swelling or other symptoms. Again, this may be uncomfortable but will probably not be painful.
There is no need to feel embarrassed about these tests – haemorrhoids are a common problem and your doctor is used to diagnosing and treating them.
In some cases, your doctor may refer you to a specialist colorectal surgeon who can assess your haemorrhoids and recommend a treatment.
Sources: Colorectal Surgical Society of Australia and New Zealand (Haemorrhoids. Modern management), NHS Choices (UK) (Piles (haemorrhoids) - Diagnosis)
Last reviewed: July 2015