Hemorrhoids, also called piles, are swollen veins in your anus and lower rectum. Hemorrhoids looks like varicose veins and they result from straining during bowel movements or from the increased pressure on these veins during pregnancy. Hemorrhoids located inside the rectum are called internal hemorrhoids. They can also be described as external hemorrhoids if they develop under the skin around the anus.
Hemorrhoids are very common and don’t cause symptoms. However, at other times, they may cause pain, itching and bleeding.
In some rare cases, a clot may form in a hemorrhoid (thrombosed hemorrhoid). These are not dangerous but can be very painful and sometimes need to be lanced and drained.
Symptoms of Hemorrhoids
Signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids may include:
- Itching or irritation in your anal region
- Painless bleeding during bowel movements
- Swelling around your anus
- Pain or discomfort in your anal area
- A lump near your anus, which may be sensitive or painful
Types of Hemorrhoids
Internal hemorrhoids. These type of hemorrhoids lie inside the rectum and rarely cause pain. You usually can’t see or feel these hemorrhoids. However, straining or irritation when passing stool can damage the surface of a hemorrhoid and cause it to bleed. An internal hemorrhoid can be pushed through the anal opening when straining. This is known as a protruding or prolapsed hemorrhoid and can cause pain and irritation.
External hemorrhoids. These hemorrhoids are under the skin around your anus. When irritated, external hemorrhoids can cause itching or bleeding.
Thrombosed hemorrhoids. Blood may gather in an external hemorrhoid and form a clot (thrombus) that can lead to severe pain, swelling, inflammation and a hard lump near your anus.
Causes of Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids develop when the veins around your anus tend to stretch under pressure and may swell. Hemorrhoids can develop from increased pressure in the lower rectum as a result of straining during bowel movements, obesity, sitting for long on toilet seat, anal intercourse, diet low in fiber, chronic diarrhea or constipation, and pregnancy.
Hemorrhoids can affect people of any age, however, risk of developing it increases with increase in age. This is because the tissues that support the veins in your rectum and anus can weaken and stretch as you get older. Also, pregnant women are more prone to developing hemorrhoids because the weight of the baby mounts pressure on the anal region.
Complications of hemorrhoids are very rare but include:
- Strangulated hemorrhoid. An internal hemorrhoid can cause extreme pain if the blood supply to the hemorrhoid is cut off.
- Chronic blood loss from hemorrhoids may cause anemia, though this is rare.
When to see a doctor
Consult your doctor immediately if you notice bleeding during bowel movements. Your doctor can perform a physical examination and perform other tests to confirm hemorrhoids and rule out serious conditions or diseases.
Other medical conditions like colorectal cancer and anal cancer can equally lead to rectal bleeding. So, ensure you see your doctor for proper diagnosis.
The best way to prevent hemorrhoids is to keep your stools soft, so they pass easily. The following tips would help you prevent hemorrhoids:
- Eat foods rich in fiber.Fruits, vegetables and whole grains helps softens the stool and increases its bulk, which will help you avoid the straining that causes hemorrhoids. Add fiber to your diet slowly to avoid problems with gas.
- Drink lots of water.Drink six to eight glasses of water and other non-alcoholic liquids each day to help keep stools soft.
- Take fiber supplements.Most people don’t get enough of the recommended amount of fiber in their diet. This is about 25 grams a day for women and 38 grams a day for men. According to studies, over-the-counter fiber supplements, such as Metamucil and Citrucel, improve general symptoms and bleeding from hemorrhoids.
- Avoid straining.Straining during bowel movement creates greater pressure in the veins in the lower rectum.
- Avoid long periods of sitting particularly on the toilet, because this can increase the pressure on the veins in the anus
- Go immediately you feel the urge.Waiting for too long to pass out a stool can cause the urge to go away. This makes your stool become dry and be harder to pass out.
- Exercise can also help you lose excess weight that may be contributing to your hemorrhoids.
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To diagnose hemorrhoid, your doctor may check to see if you have external hemorrhoids simply by looking. Tests and procedures to diagnose internal hemorrhoids may include examination of your anal canal and rectum:
- Digital examination.This involves your doctor inserting a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum to feel for anything unusual. The exam can suggest to your doctor whether further testing is required.
- Visual inspection.Internal hemorrhoids are often too soft to be felt during a rectal exam. So, your doctor may also examine the lower portion of your colon and rectum with an anoscope, proctoscope or sigmoidoscope.
Treatment of Hemorrhoids
You can use some home treatments to relieve the mild pain, swelling and inflammation of hemorrhoids. Often these are the only treatments needed.
- Eat high-fiber foods.Consume more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to soften the stool and increases its bulk. This will help you avoid the straining that can aggravate symptoms from existing hemorrhoids. Add fiber to your diet slowly to avoid problems with gas.
- Use topical treatments.You can also ease symptoms by applying an over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream or suppository containing hydrocortisone, or use pads containing witch hazel or a numbing agent.
- Apply cold.Apply ice packs or cold compresses on your anus to relieve swelling.
- Keep the anal area clean.Bathe or shower daily to cleanse the skin around your anus gently with warm water. Avoid using alcohol-based or perfumed wipes.
- Don’t use dry toilet paper, instead use moist towelettes or wet toilet paper to clean after a bowel movement.
- Take oral pain relievers.You can use acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), aspirin or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) temporarily to help ease pain.
- Soak your anal area regularly in a warm bath or sitz bath for 10 to 15 minutes two to three times a day.
Your doctor may prescribe over-the-counter creams, ointments, suppositories or pads for your hemorrhoids if they produce minor discomfort. These products contain ingredients, such as witch hazel, or hydrocortisone and lidocaine that can temporarily relieve pain and itching.
Disclaimer: The content provided on healthdiary365.com is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical doctor or healthcare professional.