Hemorrhoids, or piles as they are commonly known, are the inflamed and swollen veins around the anus or the lower part of the rectum. Hemorrhoids may result from inordinate straining to pass out stool. Pregnancy, constipation or diarrhea, anal intercourse, and aging also may lead to the formation of hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids can be external or internal. It is easy to confuse other anorectal problems like fissures, fistula, or abscesses with hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are not life threatening and the symptoms usually go away after a few days.
Though many people have hemorrhoids, only a few experience the symptoms.
These can neither be seen nor felt. But when a person strains to pass stool, the delicate surface of the hemorrhoid may get injured and this may cause it to bleed. Internal anal membranes do not have pain-sensitive nerve fibers, so the hemorrhoids do not cause discomfort. If an internal hemorrhoid is pushed through the anal opening due to straining, it can lead to pain and irritation.
These are the painful hemorrhoids. If blood pools in the external hemorrhoid, it is called a thrombus. This forms a clot and causes severe pain, inflammation and swelling. If this hemorrhoid is disturbed, it can cause bleeding and itching.
Hemorrhoids are an embarrassing problem for many, but it is also very common among both men and women. More than half the population suffers from this problem by the time they reach 50. Hemorrhoids are common among pregnant women.
Increased pressure in the veins of the lower rectum is what leads to hemorrhoids. Pressure is often applied due to:
-Constipation and the accompanying strain to release stool
-Continuous expulsion of loose stools through diarrhea
-Standing or sitting for a long time
-Pregnancy and childbirth
Rectal bleeding is the most common indication of internal hemorrhoids. But, rectal bleeding may also be a symptom of digestive diseases. The doctor will examine the area for swollen blood vessels, which indicate hemorrhoids. If rectal bleeding is accompanied by dizziness, light-headedness or fainting, a doctor should be consulted immediately. External hemorrhoids may be detected just by looking. To ascertain the presence of an internal hemorrhoid, the doctor may need to do a colonoscope, anoscope or sigmoidoscoope.
The first phase of the treatment aims at relieving symptoms. Taking a warm tub bath several times a day in mild, warm water for about 10 minutes is effective. Some hemorrhoidal cream applied to the affected area also helps.
Persistent bleeding and painful hemorrhoids may need more intricate treatment. Common procedures include Banding, Sclerotherapy, applying Infrared light, and lastly, surgery.
-Eat food rich in fiber. This will soften the stool and make it bulky, thus facilitating easy passage.
-Drink lots of water: This also eases and quickens bowel movements.
-Fiber supplements: Fiber supplements can help. Supplements should be taken with plenty of water. Otherwise, constipation results.
-Exercising regularly can help increase the blood circulation and also helps to lose weight.
-Avoid standing or sitting for long periods as this increases pressure on the veins.
-Use the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge, otherwise stools become hard and difficult to pass.
Self-care is the best care if your hemorrhoids are in the early stages. You can alleviate pain and discomfort by:
-Using topical treatments like creams
-Keeping the anal area completely neat
-Soaking regularly in warm water helps relieve pain.
-Applying ice packs or cold compresses to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
-Gently pushing a prolapsed hemorrhoid back into the anal canal.
-Using wet toilet paper to prevent friction.