What to Know About Hemorrhoids
Information from Northwest Indiania Gastroenterologists
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins that exist in and around the lower rectum and anus. These enlarged veins often cause a significant amount of pain, though are entirely treatable using at-home remedies and therapies. Individuals who experience frequent recurrence of hemorrhoids, or hemorrhoids that are especially painful, should seek medical attention from a provider at Internal Medicine Associates for comprehensive treatment.
Causes and Symptoms of Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids can be either internal or external, meaning they may or may not be visible protrusions outside of the anus. Although not every case of hemorrhoids will have an exact cause, individuals are more likely to experience this condition if they:
- Have a family history of hemorrhoids
- Are obese
- Frequently strain during bowel movements or when lifting heavy objects
- Are pregnant
- Are between the ages of 45 and 65
- Remain sitting for long periods of time
- Frequently experience constipation or diarrhea
In addition to pain in the anal area, persons with hemorrhoids often report other common symptoms such as itching, swelling, irritation, and even painless bleeding of the rectal region. Any sort of unexplained bleeding will require your doctor’s attention in order to accurately determine its cause and whether or not that cause poses any immediate threat to your health.
It is also possible for blood to pool in an external hemorrhoid, which may lead to the formation of a clot. This is known as a thrombosed hemorrhoid, which will lead to more severe pain as well as the development of a hardened lump near the anus.
At-Home Hemorrhoid Treatments
There are many simple techniques and preventative measures you can take if you have recently discovered a hemorrhoid and are looking for ways to intervene before your symptoms worsen, including:
- Over-the-counter products: There are many convenient options close by at your local pharmacy to help you find relief from hemorrhoids. Topical creams like Preparation H are specially designed to relieve inflammation and irritation caused by hemorrhoids, though this will of course only be suitable for external hemorrhoids since you will be unable to apply the cream to an internal hemorrhoid. It is recommended that individuals only use these topical solutions for up to one week.
- Listen to your body: Many people encounter hemorrhoids as a result of prolonged constipation. Delaying a bowel movement can have the same effect, which is why you should instead opt for a trip to the restroom as soon as your body signals an urge to go.
- Add more fiber to your diet: Fiber is an excellent way to help move the digestive system along and allow for less straining during bowel movements that may cause hemorrhoids. Individuals may find additional fiber in various foods, or they can also select from a variety of fiber supplements.
- Try a sitz bath: Sitz baths are a very simple way to relieve swelling and inflammation of the anal area. Patients need only soak the affected area in a basin of plain, warm water for approximately 15 minutes. It is recommended that individuals repeat this process 2 to 3 times a day for optimal effect.
- Use oral anti-inflammatories and pain relievers: Another option for over-the-counter products, medicines like ibuprofen, Tylenol, or Advil can all reduce the discomfort caused by inflamed hemorrhoids. This is useful for both internal and external hemorrhoid types.
Treatment for Severe Hemorrhoids
If all at-home remedies prove ineffective, or you begin to experience more alarming symptoms caused by hemorrhoids such as bleeding from the rectum or anus, please contact your doctor right away for proper treatment.
Rubber Band Ligation
This simple procedure uses tiny rubber bands that are placed around the hemorrhoid. Over the next few days, the rubber bands will continue to cut off blood flow to the hemorrhoid, which will eventually lead it to shrivel and fall away.
Another minimally invasive treatment that is especially helpful for individuals with internal hemorrhoids is coagulation. This procedure utilizes specially designed lasers that heat the hemorrhoid until the tissue hardens and is destroyed.
Because hemorrhoids are simply enlarged veins, they can be treated in the same way as other common venous conditions like varicose veins or spider veins. One such treatment is called sclerotherapy, which involves injecting a special solution into the affected vein to shrink it, seal it off, and prevent it from becoming enlarged again in the future.
External Hemorrhoid Thrombectomy
Individuals suffering from a thrombosed hemorrhoid with require a unique procedure called an external hemorrhoid thrombectomy. The process is not nearly as intimidating as it may sound, as it is performed while the patient is under general anesthesia. During this treatment, your doctor will remove the blood clot that has formed within the external hemorrhoid to effectively relieve the patient’s symptoms.
Stapling is often used for those with internal hemorrhoids. This surgical treatment option involves cutting off the blood supply of the hemorrhoid by stapling the internal tissue. Patients who undergo this procedure are often able to return to regular activities quickly after their treatment.
The surgical removal of a hemorrhoid, called a hemorrhoidectomy, has been a standard practice for many years. During surgery, your surgeon will remove the hemorrhoid and excise the affected tissue while the patient remains sedated and completely comfortable. This provides long-lasting relief from hemorrhoids that are known to chronically occur in one particular area.