Hemorrhoids 101

Hemorrhoids 101

By definition, hemorrhoids are distended veins present in the anal canal. Though painful, this condition is not serious. When veins swell inside the anal canal, they form internal hemorrhoids. If they swell near the mouth of the anus, they form external hemorrhoids. One can have both kinds of hemorrhoids simultaneously. The type of hemorrhoids one has will determine its treatment.

Causes: When there is an increase of pressure on the veins in the rectal and pelvic areas, hemorrhoids result. When this pressure is further increased, they swell due to pools of blood in the veins. Over time, these swollen veins cause the surrounding tissue to stretch, leading to the development of hemorrhoids.

Several other factors also cause hemorrhoids, such as diarrhea or constipation, lack of exercise, eating low-fiber diets, prolonged straining, pregnancy, ascites, genetics, aging, a lack of valves in the hemorrhoidal veins, obesity, sitting for too long, pelvic floor dysfunction and a severe cough.

Symptoms:

The symptoms of hemorrhoids are:

  • Bleeding along with bowels
  • Irritation in the anus
  • Discomfort and swelling in the anal region

Treatment:

Hemorrhoid patients can avail of several home remedies such as warm sitz baths, stool softeners, dietary changes, OTC medication. Surgery to repair hemorrhoids with methods such as rubber band ligation, laser therapy, sclerotherapy, hemorrhoidectomy and stapled hemorrhoidectomy are other treatment methods.

Warm sitz baths: By getting into a warm bath three times a day for 15-20 minutes, helps lower the inflammation associated with hemorrhoids. After each time in the bath, it is necessary to dry the anal area so that irritation around the anus is at a minimum.

Dietary changes: By increasing one’s fluid intake and dietary fiber, the chances of constipation setting in are greatly reduced and the pressure on the anus and rectum during a bowel movement is vastly reduced. This helps to reduce the discomfort, inflammation and bleeding associated with hemorrhoids. Supplements of dietary fiber also help to add bulk to stools.

Stool Softeners: Liquid stools usually cause inflammation and anal infection, but stool softeners are good to use.

Lifestyle changes: Those who suffer from hemorrhoids should not sit for protracted periods of time. They should use a donut shaped cushion available at pharmacies.

Exercise also helps relieve constipation and reduces the pressure on the hemorrhoidal veins. Once the urge to move one’s bowels arises, individuals should move their bowels immediately.

Over-the-counter medications: Patients of hemorrhoids can use a variety of ointments and suppositories for pain relief and comfort. These numb the pain and swelling, but does not cure the problem.

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