Hemorrhoids can be painful and embarrassing, but can you die from them? Though rare, it is possible to die from hemorrhoids, but not for the reason you might think. Hemorrhoids can burst, leading to severe bleeding. It might surprise you that bleeding is not the only thing you should worry about if you have hemorrhoids. Continue reading to find out (in-depth) if you can die from hemorrhoids and the dangers if left untreated.
What Causes Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids, or piles, appear after prolonged sitting to chronic diarrhea or constipation.
Being overweight, low-fiber diets, or childbirth which involves straining, is also factor. Pushing creates pressure on the rectal area, enlarging the veins and creating a lump in the rectal wall (1).
Some people with hemorrhoids will not experience any symptoms, yet others may feel pain, rectal bleeding, or itching.
Risks of Leaving Hemorrhoids Untreated
Hemorrhoids can be a dangerous condition if not treated. Without proper therapy, symptoms can intensify. Inflammation, particularly with prolapsed hemorrhoids, can become problematic.
While some hemorrhoids may retract back inside the anus on their own, others can become trapped outside of the anus. As such, these hemorrhoids are vulnerable to infection and other complications.
Also, feces leakage, mucus, or other discharge can make them susceptible to irritation and swelling. Difficulty sitting or cleaning the area can also emerge as a challenge.
Finally, one of the most traumatic side effects of untreated hemorrhoids occurs when they fill with too much blood and burst.
When Do Hemorrhoids Become An Emergency?
Although some hemorrhoids may disappear on their own, others do need treatment. Over-the-counter topical anesthetics, phlebonics, astringents, or protectants are an excellent place to start.
Though often short-term, these treatments help manage the itching, fecal leakage, pain, and bleeding. Additionally, there are surgical treatment options available to remove hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are graded on a scale of I (least severe) through IV (most severe). Office-based treatments are available for grades I, II, and some grade III. How do you know when there is a problem with your hemorrhoids? When do hemorrhoids become an emergency?
Unfortunately, hemorrhoids can become an emergency if untreated. As noted, infections can become a risk with prolapsed piles or hemorrhoid bursts. If you develop a temperature or experience discharge from your piles, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Can You Die From Burst Hemorrhoid?
A prolapsed external or internal hemorrhoid that sticks out from the anus can fill with blood, forming a blood clot within the hemorrhoid. The blood clot creates a pressure-like sensation around the anal area that can cause severe pain. When the clot eventually ruptures, typically due to too much pressure, bright, red blood leaks out and is visible upon wiping or in the toilet bowl. An internal hemorrhoidal rupture often produces blood in the toilet with a bowel movement.
Though uncomfortable, experts agree that a hemorrhoidal burst is not likely to kill you.
How to Treat Burst Hemorrhoids?
If you experience a hemorrhoid burst, you want to immediately clean the area and apply a cool cloth or use a sitz bath to relieve the pain. Witch hazel pads are also helpful in cooling the region.
One or more of these actions can reduce inflammation and soothe this tender location. Also, make arrangements to get off your feet for a few days. Avoid prolonged sitting, as this will help remove the pressure from your anus.
Has Anyone Died from Hemorrhoids?
While death from hemorrhoids is rare, some of the side effects of untreated hemorrhoids can be lethal. For example, an infection can occur with ruptured hemorrhoids, leading to sepsis if left untreated.
Sepsis occurs when an infection enters your bloodstream, which can progress to severe sepsis, affecting organ function or even leading to septic shock. A 2007 Case Report, published by the Diseases of Colon and Rectum Journal, describes a case in which a 53-year-old male died due to Fournier gangrene secondary to sepsis and thrombosis of very large hemorrhoids. This case was the first known autopsy study of a patient who died because of complications of very large (Grade IV) hemorrhoids (2).
In summary, there is a rare chance you can die from hemorrhoids due to the complications with it. But, hemorrhoid rupture or burst and other side effects may increase the likelihood of illness or even death if left untreated.
There are many short-term over-the-counter medications available to treat hemorrhoids. Additionally, keeping the area clean will provide relief should your hemorrhoids burst. If you experience symptoms that do not improve within five to seven days, you should seek attention from a medical professional.
1. Mott, T., Latimer, K., & Edwards, C. (2018). Hemorrhoids: Diagnosis and Treatment Options. American family physician, 97(3), 172–179. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29431977/
2. Becker de Moura, H., & Ribeiro-Silva, A. (2007). Death resulting from fournier gangrene secondary to thrombosis of very large hemorrhoids: report of a case. Diseases of the colon and rectum, 50(10), 1715–1718. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10350-007-9054-x