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Hemorrhoids: Important points you need to know

Hemorrhoids are veins within and outside of the anus and rectum that are swollen and enlarged. They may be uncomfortable, painful, and may even result in rectal bleeding but they are not life threatening. Hemorrhoids are sometimes referred to as Piles.

Hemorrhoids are a part of everyone’s natural condition; however, they are generally not an issue. They only exhibit annoying symptoms when they swell and grow larger.

A man with hemorrhoids
Photo by atlascompany

Hemorrhoids are of two types, internal and external. Internal hemorrhoids form inside the rectum or anus while external hemorrhoids form outside the anus.

Fortunately, hemorrhoids can be treated successfully. Sometimes home remedies and lifestyle adjustments help a lot of people without a need for medication but in some cases medication may be required.

Who are more likely to be affected by Hemorrhoids?

It is important to understand that Hemorrhoids are very common and estimated to affect 1 in 20 Americans. They affect people from all walks of life. Hemorrhoids are not very common to children because they take a while to develop.

It is not fully understood in the medical world as to why hemorrhoids appear. Current observations suggest that the following people are at higher risk of being affected:

  • Pregnant women: It is believed that around 35% of pregnant women may experience hemorrhoids. During pregnancy, tissues in the rectum become weaker, and hormones cause veins to relax and swell.
  • People with obesity: Being overweight puts a person at a higher risk of hemorrhoids according to research due to increasing pressure within the abdomen.
  • Weight lifters: Those who lift heavy objects regularly are also at a higher risk of hemorrhoids.
  • Anal sex participants: Anal sex may cause hemorrhoids to occur or worsen the existing one.
  • Sitting for too long: Sitting for a very long time is not healthy and may lead to different health issues. One of them being hemorrhoids.

Other risk factors include poor diet, chronic constipation, prolonged diarrhea and age. Someone with hemorrhoids when he/she coughs, sneezes or vomits, may worsen the situation.

The symptoms associated with hemorrhoids

The symptoms of hemorrhoids depend on whether the hemorrhoids are internal or external. Generally the symptoms include:

  • Blood on your poop, on toilet paper after you wipe, or in the toilet bowl.
  • Itching in the anal area.
  • Swelling around the anal area.
  • Bulging of a vein, which may or may not be painful, depending on where it occurs.
  • Pain or discomfort
Blood stain from hemorrhoids
Photo by  atlascompany

Hemorrhoids diagnosis

Typically, hemorrhoids can be identified by a straightforward physical examination and medical history. In general, external hemorrhoids are visible, especially if a blood clot has developed. A digital rectal exam by your doctor could be used to look for blood in the stool.

A doctor may also use may also use an anoscope, a brief plastic tube put into the rectum with illumination, to look at the anal canal. Colonoscopy may be carried out to rule out other sources of bleeding, such as colorectal polyps or cancer, especially in adults over the age of 45, if there is evidence of rectal bleeding or microscopic blood in the stool.

Preventive measures

It is advised to try to keep the stool soft in order to avoid hemorrhoids. The tips below may help to prevent the condition:

  • Go to the toilet as soon as you feel the urge to do so. Forcing the stool to stay in may cause it to dry and therefore become harder to pass.
  • Stay hydrated. It will help you avoid hard stools and constipation, so you strain less during bowel movements. Fruits and vegetables, which have fiber, also have water in them.
  • Eat enough fiber. It facilitates easier digestion of food. Plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes, are a rich source of it. Set a daily goal of 20 to 35 grams of dietary fiber.
  • Be physically active. Exercise helps stool move through the bowel, making bowel movements more regular.
  • Maintain a moderate body weight. Being overweight is not healthy at all. The best way to stay healthy is to avoid being obese.

Treatment Options

Hemorrhoids symptoms like Pain and bleeding may sometimes last for at least a week, but in most cases hemorrhoids go away without treatment. When the symptoms are very irritating, you may try any of these treatment options to ease the symptoms or cure it.

Options at Home

  • Stay hydrated
  • Increase your fiber intake through diet and supplements
  • Soak in a warm bath for at least 10 minutes, 2 to 3 times a day
  • Soften the stool using over-the-counter laxatives
  • Use nonprescription creams and wipes to ease the pain

Options by the Healthcare provider

  • Rubber band ligation: This procedure stops blood flow to a vein by wrapping a short rubber band around the base of a hemorrhoid.
  • Preventing blood flow to a hemorrhoid by a process called electrocoagulation.
  • Sclerotherapy: Hemorrhoid tissue is destroyed by injecting a chemical into the enlarged vein.

In extreme cases, the treatment option may be surgery. The surgery is carried out to remove a hemorrhoid from the inside or maybe done to force the hemorrhoid inside and keep it there.

In Summary

Veins around the rectum and anus that are swollen and protrude are hemorrhoids. They are highly prevalent and are brought on by pressure on the rectal veins. Chronic constipation, pushing during bowel movements, a family history of hemorrhoids, and pregnancy are all risk factors.

Hemorrhoids typically disappear on their own. Treatments often target symptom relief and may involve taking warm baths, applying hydrocortisone, hemorrhoid cream, or swallowing a pain reliever. Exercise, consuming more fiber-rich foods, and drinking lots of water can all help to relieve constipation and stop hemorrhoids from developing in the future.

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