Hemorrhoids

Everyone has heard about hemorrhoids and maybe seen enough uncomfortable commercials to know it is a problem in a private, delicate area; yet, despite this general exposure to the term, many people do not know what exactly hemorrhoids are or how they are acquired.

 


 

Yet without this knowledge, it is impossible to have a hemorrhoid problem examined and treated, and most importantly, prevented. Here is important information regarding the medical condition which can help you stay healthy.

 

Hemorrhoids

Biomedical illustration of colon hemorrhoid polyp in a cut-away view of the large intestine and including an enlargement of the inflamed rectum.

 

Definition

 

To start, hemorrhoids are basically veins in your anus area that have become very swollen. They have a variety of causes, which including straining too hard during defecation, pregnancy and trauma sustained during anal sex. They can be either inside your anus (internal hemorrhoids) or outside (external hemorrhoids) – though always around that area. Sometimes, an internal hemorrhoid actually begins to stick out, so that it almost seems external.

 

This is a prolapsed hemorrhoid. Although hemorrhoids are awkward to talk about and unpleasant to live with, they are not uncommon. In fact, at least half the general population will acquire hemorrhoids at some point in their life. It is sometimes hard to know approximately how many suffer from the affliction since a large number of people never discuss it with a qualified doctor who could diagnose them, so the statistic very well may be higher than even that.

 

 

Signs and Symptoms

 

There are a number of signs and symptoms for hemorrhoids. They are how doctors and laymen alike can tell when hemorrhoids are a problem. When considering symptoms, however, it is important to remember that not everyone has the same symptoms. Some hemorrhoids, which are internal and small enough, can seem symptom free.

Bleeding: One of the most noticeable symptoms is bleeding, since the enlarged veins are full of blood. This symptom can seem pretty scary, especially if you have never had a similar problem before. In fact, many people choose to see a doctor after noticing spots of bright red blood on their bathroom tissue or in the toilet.

 

If the blood is bright red, you may have a simple hemorrhoid condition. Keep an eye out for darker blood, too; if you have bleeding that is almost black it could be a sign of a serious medical emergency.

 

Pain: Pain is another frequent symptom. So long as the swelling is happening, it can be painful to stand, sit or both. The pain will be especially bad if you have an external hemorrhoid or an internal hemorrhoid which has thrombosed.

 

Itching: Itching around the anus area may also occur. At times, people attribute the itching sensation to issues of cleanliness or some kind of infection, but it could just be a hemorrhoid. Note that if it is a hemorrhoid, attempting to clean the area excessively could actually make the sensation worse.

Anal Leakage: Yet another symptom is anal leakage, that unfortunate phenomenon where things that should stay inside your body until you are ready to expel them instead creep out, even when you are not prepared (this can also contribute to that itchy feeling).

The severity of your hemorrhoid symptoms will likely depend on a few factors, (such as whether the hemorrhoid is inside or outside your anus) since internal hemorrhoids tend to be milder and have fewer symptoms than their external counterparts, which are very painful.

 

 

Treatment

 

Hemorrhoids are one of those frustrating conditions that are usually not serious enough to require a lot of treatment, but are too noticeable to forget. In some instances, no treatment is necessary and the hemorrhoids go away with time. But, if the symptoms persist or began to affect your life negatively, there are a variety of treatments available.

 

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Creams: There are many different kinds of steroidal creams which basically tell your body to calm down and reduce swelling. These creams, which can be either over the counter or prescribed if the problem is severe enough, are applied topically and reduce the size and severity of your hemorrhoid, in some cases completely reducing the vein back to normal size. Some creams, created especially to deal with this problem, also include a pain reducer or numbing agent, such as lidocaine.

 

Sitz Baths: A sitz bath (pronounced “sits”) is an easy way to reduce symptoms. It can be done with an actual sitz bath (a small bowl-like object that sits over the toilet in many cases) or simply in a tub filled with just enough water to cover the lower part of your body.

The water should be warm to hot. You simply soak in the bath for ten to twenty minutes at a time. Adding oils or oatmeal to the bath can increase its effectiveness, but you should check with a doctor to determine which additives are safe and beneficial.

 

Witch Hazel: Witch hazel, applied with a cotton cloth, can also reduce itching and help you leave the area alone. It is easily found at many grocery and drug stores, though a chemist or pharmacist can also help.

 

Rubber Band Ligation: In this treatment used primarily for internal hemorrhoids, a doctor ties a band around the hemorrhoid to restrict blood flow. After some time with no blood and oxygen, the area simply dries up and falls off. This is one of the most common treatments used for persistent hemorrhoids and is effective in the long run almost 90% of the time.

 

Sclerotherapy: A doctor makes an injection into the hemorrhoid, in this treatment option, that causes the hemorrhoid to dry up and die. This treatment has about a 70% chance of being a permanently effective solution.

 

Surgical Removal: Sort of the treatment of last resort, removal actually involves an excision; the doctor cuts open the hemorrhoid and drains it. Although effective, this procedure causes a lot of pain requires almost a month of recovery time.

Surgical Stapling: Surgical stapling involves the stapling of the vein, so that blood flow cannot reach your hemorrhoid. The benefit of this procedure is that it is often effective, is less painful than the other surgical option (removal) and has a much quicker recovery time. The disadvantage is that it is not always a permanent solution and sometimes a stapled hemorrhoid still comes back.

 

In general, the surgical options are avoided. This is because they cause pain and also have a lot of risk of complications; this is understandable since that area of your body manages many different functions and everything is close together.

The surgical options are only used for those people who find their lives significantly impaired by the condition, usually due to thrombosed hemorrhoids (ones which contain painful blood clots) or necrotising (wherein the area begins to rot and spread to other locations).

 

 

Prevention

 

The best option is always to avoid hemorrhoids by taking a few steps to prevent them. Here are ways you can adjust your lifestyle to reduce the odds of acquiring them in the first place, before symptoms and treatment types are a concern.

Though they might seem like an inconvience initially, these preventative ways can save you a lot of time, money andpain.

 

Fiber: When your body is lacking the neccessary fiber content, you begin to have bowel problems, such as constipation. This leads to prolonged periods at the toilet and a lot of straining – two conditions that lead directly to hemorrhoids.

Always make sure to get the required fiber content for your body, which ranges between about 25 and 38 grams a day. It can come from dark leafy vegetables, a fiber supplement you spoon into your morning beverage, etc. The important part is to remember that you get it from somewhere.

 

Salt: Think of osmosis. The more salt your body has inside of it, the more you will hold on to water, creating problems such as increased weight, bloating, and yes, hemorrhoids. When your entire body is swelling, your veins swell too. Avoid too many salty foods (such as junk food) and remember to check the sodium content on everything.

Sometimes even sweet things (like diet coke) have a sizeable amount of sodium present. When you must eat salty foods, try to counter them with a duretic to encourage your body let go of its water.

 

Straining: Try to relax when you are using the restroom, because straining only causes more hemorrhoids. Instead, give yourself time to complete your business. A little exercise, like a brief walk or a few jumping jacks can help your divestive system prepare to defecate with more ease and less time.

 

Water: Drinking your daily requirement of water also helps reduce constipation. You should have at least eight glasses of water a day, and more depending on your level of activity and diet.

 

Take it Easy: Do not overexert yourself. If something is too heavy to lift or too hard to move, take a breath and find an alternative. Forcing yourself to physical feats only stresses your body and raises your blood pressure, which causes veins to swell and bulge.

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About the author

Jean Miles is a health and fitness instructor, the co-founder of lifeaura.com
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