Many patients with hemorrhoids will suffer from recurrent episodes. Not only can these recurrences be extremely uncomfortable, but if left untreated they can lead to serious consequences.
Frequently recurring hemorrhoids are a risk factor for developing anemia. For this to occur the bleeding must be regular and last several weeks (even if it is intermittent). Concurrent bleeding such as that caused by a long and heavy menstrual cycle can increase this risk even more. Anemia can cause symptoms of pale skin, low heart rate, increased blood pressure or a general feeling of being unwell. If you experience these symptoms it is imperative that you see a doctor immediately.
The symptoms of hemorrhoidal disease, including bleeding and discomfort, may worsen over time and with increasing age. In addition to this they may also become prolapsed (bulging out of the anus).
In severe cases, surgical removal of the hemorrhoid may be the only option. This is relatively rare (5-10% of cases1), but is best avoided as surgery is painful and can result in complications such as anal incontinence.
If hemorrhoids are treated early and correctly, these complications can be avoided.
1. Cerato M, Cerato N, Passos P, Treigue A, Damin D, Surgical treatment of hemorrhoids: a critical appraisal of the current options, Arq Bras Cir Dig. 2014 Jan-Mar; 27(1): 66–70.