How Long Should I Use OTC Remedies?

Woman-thinkingHemorrhoids, while they can be inconvenient, painful and embarrassing, are normally not serious and disappear on their own after a few days. In most cases, over-the-counter remedies, including creams, medicated wipes and suppositories provide relief from the pain and itching caused by hemorrhoids. But sometimes these options are not enough and medical attention is necessary.

If home remedies don’t give you relief within a few days, it’s time to make an appointment with your physician. According to the Mayo Clinic, using over-the-counter medications for more than seven days may produce harmful side effects, including a skin rash, inflammation and thinning of the skin. A doctor can provide prescription medication that will clear up hemorrhoids quickly or suggest an outpatient procedure or other options to treat hemorrhoids. Common procedures include hemorrhoid banding, injections, infrared coagulation, stapling or a hemmorhoidectomy.

Rectal bleeding and severe pain also signal the need to see a doctor. While rectal bleeding is a common sign of hemorrhoids, it can also be an indication of other digestive diseases, including colorectal cancer. If you notice rectal bleeding, talk to your physician, who can perform tests to diagnose hemorrhoids and rule out other causes. Changes in bowel habits, passing tarry or black stools and passing stools with blood in them are also reasons to contact your doctor immediately, as they may signal a more serious condition.

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