Hemorrhoids: Symptoms, Types and Treatment
Hemorrhoids also termed as piles are swollen veins in your anus or around the lower rectum, under the skin.
Every 3 in 4 adults have hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids may occur due to a number of reasons but the main cause can remain unknown.
Hemorrhoids cause difficulty while sitting and extreme itching.
The symptoms of hemorrhoids differ according to the type of hemorrhoids.
Types of hemorrhoids
There are three types of hemorrhoids.
Internal hemorrhoids are deep inside the rectum and external hemorrhoids are present under the skin that is around the anus.
External hemorrhoids are more common and cause more pain.
Thrombosed hemorrhoids occur when a blood clot occurs in external hemorrhoid making it purple or blue leading to thrombosis.
Symptoms of Internal Hemorrhoids
Internal hemorrhoids are present deep inside the rectum hence they can’t be seen or felt.
There are less pain-sensing nerves in that area therefore, they do not cause much discomfort.
However, when you pass stool you feel some irritation.
It can also further cause bleeding in your stool which is also painless and you may notice it on your toilet seat or tissue.
Moreover, you see a tissue bulging outside the anal opening. This causes pain and irritation when passing stool.
These prolapsed and protruding hemorrhoids are pink bumps that are pinkier than the skin around and they go back inside unless if required to be pushed back.
Symptoms of External Hemorrhoids
External hemorrhoids are present around the anus so they cause itching, pain and irritation in the anal region.
That area will also swell up and you will feel discomfort and pain. Sometimes bleeding also happens.
Since, there are pain-sensing nerves here, external hemorrhoids are more painful.
Thrombosed Hemorrhoids symptoms
Blood clotting in external hemorrhoids causes swelling, itching and inflammation.
It is also very painful and a lump is made around the anus.
Causes of hemorrhoids
The veins surrounding your anus can stretch under pressure.
This pressure induces swelling and enlargement of veins leading to external hemorrhoids.
Moreover, pressure in the lower rectum causes internal hemorrhoids.
This pressure can be due to many causes given below.
Hemorrhoids are commonly found in pregnant women.
The uterus grows and enlarges during pregnancy, there it presses the veins and they bulge in the colon.
Chronic diarrhea and constipation
Straining to pass stool puts pressure on the blood vessels.
Moreover having diarrhea and constipation for a very long time can cause hemorrhoids.
Sitting for too long
Sitting for long periods of time in one place can lead to hemorrhoids.
Especially if you have been sitting for long on the toilet seat.
Hemorrhoids is more common among the ages of 45 to 65.
Tissues that support veins in your rectum become weak and stretch as you age.
However, that does not excuse young people from getting it.
Other causes include eating low fiber foods, lifting up heavy objects and obesity.
Some people may also inherit the tendency to have hemorrhoids due to their genetic makeup.
Hemorrhoids rarely cause any complication but some may still occur.
Long term blood loss from hemorrhoids can cause anemia.
This is a condition where there are insufficient red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body to other cells.
Sometimes the blood supply to external hemorrhoids stops, this causes strangulated hemorrhoids to become very painful.
A thrombosed hemorrhoid is also a complication. Blood pools in external hemorrhoids can make a blood clot.
This blot clot causes pain so it is lanced or drained.
Your doctor can diagnose hemorrhoids by a visual examination.
External hemorrhoids do not need further examination but the doctor will carry out tests to identify internal hemorrhoids.
Digital rectal exam
The doctor inserts a finger that is gloved and lubricated into your rectum.
This way they can detect any growths and abnormalities.
The hemorrhoids are too soft to be detected by a rectal exam.
Therefore, it is possible that your doctor will examine the rectum using a proctoscope or sigmoidoscope.
The sigmoidoscopy involves the insertion of a small fiber-optic camera in your rectum by putting it in a small tube.
This gives the doctor a closer view of hemorrhoid inside the rectum.
Hemorrhoids are not considered a serious condition, hence it can resolve by using home remedies and incorporating lifestyle changes.
However, if that is not effective, the doctor may recommend hemorrhoids creams or other medications.
Only a small number of people need surgery for hemorrhoids.
Eat more high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
This will ease bowel movements and you will stop straining.
Hence, this will help in relieving chronic constipation that is one of the causes of hemorrhoids.
However, include it slowly in less amount and then increasing it to abstain from problems with gas.
Use over the counter ointments and hemorrhoid creams containing hydrocortisone to ease the pain and itching. You can also use pads with numbing agents and witch hazel.
Soak your anal and affected area thoroughly for 10 minutes in a warm bath 2 to 3 times a day.
Hemorrhoid symptoms can disappear within a week with these treatments.
Visit a doctor if symptoms persist and bleeding does not stop.
Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter ointments, creams and pads with hydrocortisone and witch hazel.
However, they may also give pain-relieving oral medicine like aspirin to provide some relief.
Steroid creams should not be used over a week without a doctor’s advice because they can cause skin thin to become thin.
If the hemorrhoid is large and cannot be eliminated with creams or home treatments then you may undergo surgery.
Hemorrhoidectomy includes the removal of excessive tissue that causes bleeding.
Your surgeon will give you local or spinal anesthesia and remove severe or recurring hemorrhoids.
Some side effects include urinary tract infection and pain which can go away by using medications or soaking in a warm water bath.
Stapled hemorrhoidopexy involves blocking blood flow to the hemorrhoidal tissues.
This surgery is less painful and heals earlier but there is a larger chance of recurrence and rectal prolapse.
However, the side effects can get a little serious. You may have urinary pain, bleeding and a life-threatening condition, sepsis.
A thrombosis can become painful and it can be removed through a procedure. You will feel prompt relief if External hemorrhoid thrombectomy is performed within 72 hours.
For severe pain and persistent bleeding, your doctor may carry out minimally invasive procedures.
These treatments can be done within a doctor’s office and will not require anesthesia.
One of them is rubber band ligation. Your doctor puts a rubber band around the base of internal hemorrhoid.
This cuts off its blood circulation and hemorrhoid falls after a week.
This is a little uncomfortable and can also cause bleeding after three to four days but complications are rare.
Sclerotherapy is used to shrink the hemorrhoid tissue. A chemical tissue is injected into the tissues to shrink them.
This procedure is less effective than Hemorrhoid banding but also less painful.
Coagulation involves the use of infrared, laser or heat to harden internal bleeding hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids will also shrivel in the low side effect procedure.
The best way to prevent hemorrhoids from occurring and recurring is to keep your stool soft.
If you maintain a high fiber diet and a healthy lifestyle you will be able to have a regular bowel movement and a soft stool that prevents hemorrhoids.
Your stool will soften hence, you will avoid straining and not press on your veins which leads to hemorrhoids.
If your symptoms, do not improve then try incorporating fiber supplements into your diet.
You may miss out on the recommended 20 to 30 grams of fiber in your meals.
Therefore, use over the counter symptoms like psyllium to help with bleeding in hemorrhoids.
Drinking lots of water keeps stools soft. It is recommended to drink six to eight glasses of water daily.
In fact, drinking eight glasses of water is necessary with fiber supplements.
Otherwise, stools may harden and you may get constipation again.
Try to avoid straining at all costs. If you hold your breath and strain, you are adding a lot of pressure to your veins which can lead to hemorrhoids in the future.
Another cause of hemorrhoids is sitting for too long especially on the toilet seat. Avoid doing that to prevent hemorrhoids.
Moreover, you should pass a bowel movement as soon as you feel the urge.
If you wait for a while and the urge goes then your stool hardens hence, become even more difficult to pass.
Furthermore, you can’t neglect the importance of exercise.
Exercise helps in keeping a healthy metabolism along with preventing constipation.
Since standing and sitting for a long time can cause hemorrhoids so exercise reduces the pressure on veins.
Obesity too is a cause of hemorrhoids, so if you incorporate exercise in your routine, you can save yourself from developing this painful condition.
Hemorrhoids may occur due to bad lifestyle habits and can be cured by good lifestyle habits.
Maintain a healthy body and eat healthy to avoid any painful and disturbing condition.