Hemorrhoids aka piles is a very common health issue that you will find every three out of four persons are suffering from. It is a condition in which veins in the lower part of anus and rectum get swollen and often painful. Though hemorrhoid is painful and unpleasant but it is a treatable condition. With some changes in lifestyle and medical treatments, the symptoms of hemorrhoids can be relieved and prevented.
The rectum is the very last part of the bowel which ends to the anus, the opening wherefrom the removal of fecal matter occurs from the body. There are several reasons behind stretched and swollen veins. The most common conditions that can lead to distended or enlarged cushions (hemorrhoidal tissue that is made up of connective tissue, muscles, and blood vessels) includes aging, lifting a heavyweight along with doing some other tasks that strain your lower bowel part, excessive weight gain, etc.
So we can say that with age the risk of developing hemorrhoids or piles problem increases for every individual if precaution is not maintained in daily lifestyle routine. Hemorrhoids may or may not be painful but it is always bothersome especially when it gets recurrent in nature. However, its symptoms go away within a few days and also it is not a life-threatening condition.
This health condition gets worse over time if it remains untreated for a longer duration. This is the reason doctors suggest for its immediate treatment as soon as it is diagnosed. This is a very preventable condition and even it can be relieved with home treatment measures and certain lifestyle changes.
Facts About Hemorrhoids
Here are some important facts about hemorrhoids that everyone needs to know-
- With age, the likelihood of developing hemorrhoids increases for every person.
- During pregnancy and childbirth procedure women are more likely to develop hemorrhoids.
- The hemorrhoids develop when the veins surrounding the anus get enlarged or distended.
- In some cases of hemorrhoids medicines and surgery is the only treatment option.
Hemorrhoids are primarily of two types depending upon its place of occurrence.
Internal hemorrhoids occur very deep inside of the rectum and don’t look from the outside. Rectal bleeding is the first sign of this type of hemorrhoids in most of the cases. These are usually painless.
Sometimes due to straining internal hemorrhoids comes on the surface through the anus. When this happens it is called prolapsed or protruding hemorrhoid which is quite painful.
The external hemorrhoids occur under the skin around the anus. So this type of hemorrhoids is visible from outside. As very sensitive nerves exist in this area of the body so this type of hemorrhoid is more painful. Bleeding occurs often due to straining caused by bowel movement as the passing stools exert extra pressure on the nerves surrounding in this area making them bleed.
The hemorrhoids occur due to enlargement of the veins around the anus which is caused by the following reasons-
- Aging- Aged adults such as people aging between 45 to 65 are the most common victims of hemorrhoids' health condition. This shows that the risk of getting this health issue increases as you get older. However, this doesn’t mean that young adults or children cannot develop this condition.
- Persistent Constipation- People who persistently face the constipation problem or are the patient of chronic constipation develops the hemorrhoids health issue. This is because constant straining or pressure for passing out stools puts unusual pressure on the walls of blood vessels leading to distended anus veins occur.
- Diarrhea- In the cases of chronic diarrhea to a patient can develop the hemorrhoids issue.
- Heavy Weight Lifting- people who repeatedly lift heavy weights can also strain their anus veins excessively over time leading to hemorrhoids issues occur.
- Pregnancy- As during the pregnancy the size of uterus enlarges to provide space for the growing baby, resulting in extra pressure on the colon veins develops that cause it to swell.
- Anal Intercourse- people who are indulged in annual intercourse can worsen existing hemorrhoids if it is already there or develop hemorrhoid in the future.
- Sitting for Prolonged Period- Sitting for a prolonged period of time can strain the anus veins leading to hemorrhoids occur. This risk gets high when someone sits too long in the toilet. This is the reason why people with constipation problems have a high risk of developing hemorrhoids as they need to sit too long on the toilet.
- Genetics- Genetics play a crucial role in causing the hemorrhoids problem. In such cases, they inherit this issue from their parents who had suffered from this health issue in their lifetime.
- Obesity- The diet-related obesity issue can cause hemorrhoids health issues.
The external hemorrhoids occur under the skin around the anus. Its signs and symptoms include-
- The anal area gets itchy and irritating
- Swelling occurs around your anus region
- Pain and discomfort
- Bleeding occurs during bowel movement
Internal hemorrhoids occur inside the rectum area. The affected person couldn’t see or feel them as it rarely causes any discomfort. However irritation and straining while stool passing can cause the following symptoms-
- Bright red color blood spotting can be seen in the toilet tissue paper or in the toilet. The bleeding often remains painless during the bowel movement.
- The prolapsed or protruding hemorrhoid that leads to pain and irritation.
Under the cases where blood pools in external hemorrhoid and turns to a clot or thrombus then it can develop the following symptoms-
- Severe pain
- Hard lump around your anus
- Aging- As a person gets older the connective tissues that provide support to the veins in your anus and rectum get weaker and stretched. This leads to bulging or distended hemorrhoids over time.
- Pregnancy- During the pregnancy period the risk of a pregnant woman for developing hemorrhoids increases. This is because at this point in time the weight of the growing baby puts extra pressure on the anal region leading to hemorrhoids may occur. However this issue usually automatically disappears after childbirth.
- Obesity- Being overweight or obese your risk of developing hemorrhoids increases. This is because the increased body weight puts extra pressure on hemorrhoidal tissues making them weaker and stretched over time.
- Lack of Fiber in Diet- The lack of fiber-rich meals in diet routine increases a person’s risk of developing hemorrhoids. This is because fiber diets support easy bowel movement and prevent constipation problems which is one of the prominent reasons behind the hemorrhoids issue.
Usually, hemorrhoids don’t cause any kind of health complications. However, in rare cases, it may cause-
- Blood Clotting- As time progresses the clotting can form in hemorrhoids known as thrombosed hemorrhoids. Though it is not severe but it can be very painful and often needs to be drained or lanced.
- Strangulated Hemorrhoid- The cases where the supply of blood cut off to internal hemorrhoids in that case hemorrhoids may be strangulated and can cause excessive pain.
- Anemia- In rare cases, a hemorrhoid patient gets anemic. This usually happens in cases of chronic blood loss from hemorrhoids. Excessive loss of blood results in a fall in healthy red blood cells in the body that carry oxygen to different cells.
It is vital to consult with a doctor immediately if anyone notices the symptoms of hemorrhoids without making further delay. However, it is not necessary that rectal bleeding is occurring only because of hemorrhoids. Rectal bleeding can also occur due to anal and colorectal cancers.
A doctor needs to do a physical examination in order to diagnose the hemorrhoids condition. Apart from this other diagnostic tests are also needed to confirm whether the hemorrhoids are present or not. The physical examination is done by a doctor by wearing gloves and with a lubricated finger. A digital rectal examination is also done for confirming this health condition.
In the cases of hemorrhoids where the symptoms include the noticeable amount of bleeding, dizziness and fainting sensation then the affected person should seek emergency medical care without further delay.
In most of the cases of hemorrhoids symptoms relieved with only simple measures. However, in certain cases medicines and even surgery is required to treat this condition completely.
The symptoms of hemorrhoids can be alleviated with the help of following home treatment measures. However, these measures cannot remove hemorrhoids.
Cold Compress and Ice Packs
This is a very effective home treatment method in order to get quick relief from the symptoms of hemorrhoids. You can apply a cold compress or ice packs directly on the affected area which helps in easing discomforts like swelling and pain.
Topical Ointments and Creams
There are many over the counter ointments and creams available online which contains hydrocortisone for relieving the symptoms caused by hemorrhoids. Apart from this, there are also pads that contain witch hazel or any other numbing agent that can be applied directly to the skin.
Sitz bath using the warm water gives an immense amount of comfort by easing the hemorrhoids symptoms. It can be easily available in pharmacies. It helps in relieving symptoms like itching and burning sensation.
Moist Toilet Paper Usage
Using a dry toilet paper may aggravate the hemorrhoids symptoms. So this must be avoided and replaced by moist toilet papers.
The pain and discomfort associated with hemorrhoids can be ease out with some painkillers intake such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen.
Generally, hemorrhoid medications are OTC which comes in the form of ointments, pads, and suppositories. The active ingredients of these OTC medications include witch hazel and hydrocortisone which works very effectively in relieving pain and itching associated with hemorrhoids. However, if the usage of these OTC medications doesn’t bring any noticeable improvement in the symptoms after one week of treatment then the patient should consult with a doctor.
Nonsurgical Treatment Measures
Initially less invasive forms of treatment measures are used for removing hemorrhoids. This treatment measure is known as nonsurgical hemorrhoid removal. Rubber band ligation is the most common type of nonsurgical hemorrhoid treatment. It is conducted on OPD (outpatient procedure) for the removal of internal hemorrhoids. In this procedure, an elastic band is placed on the base of hemorrhoids in order to cut off the blood supply. After this procedure, either hemorrhoid will shrink in shape or fall apart.
One another nonsurgical procedure is Sclerotherapy in which a medicated solution is injected into internal hemorrhoids. As a result, this procedure a scar develops that cuts off the blood supply to hemorrhoids. Apart from these procedures electrocoagulation and photocoagulation are other two nonsurgical options.
Surgical Treatment Measures
Surgery is the last and ultimate option for the treatment of hemorrhoids or in more precise terms for the chronic form of hemorrhoids. This involves complete removal of hemorrhoids also called hemorrhoidectomy.
In the surgical treatment method stapling is also done in the cases of a prolapsed hemorrhoid. Stapling helps in taking back the prolapsed hemorrhoid to its original place or position. These surgical procedures are conducted using the general anesthesia and in most of the case, the patient can go back home on the same day when the surgery is conducted.
One can prevent his or her risk of developing hemorrhoids in the future by following the below-mentioned prevention measures that help in keeping stools soft so that during bowel movements it won’t strain the anus veins.
Avoid Prolonged Sitting or Standing
The risk of hemorrhoids increases if a person is involved in an activity in which he or she needs to sit or stand still for a long period. So by keeping your body moving, you can prevent this health risk. Physical activity like regular exercise etc helps in passing your stools easily and also ensures the bowel movements occur regularly.
Using the Toilet Immediately when Needed
One should not make a delay if they feel the necessity of using the toilet. This is because as much delay you will make the stools get drier leading to constipation problem that is one of the most common reasons responsible for straining the anus veins.
Avoid Over Straining
While using the toilet try avoiding the overstrain as this can put extra pressure on your veins in the lower rectum in order to prevent the hemorrhoids risks in the future.
Eat More Fiber-Rich Foods
Include more fiber-rich diets in your meal such as whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables. These fiber-rich diets help in keeping your stools always soft for an easy bowel movement. Also, drink plenty amount of water every day as this also helps in softening your stools.
Reduce Your Excess Body Weight
If you are obese or have over bodyweight then you must reduce and maintain your body weight to a healthy level as this reduces your risk of developing hemorrhoids.
Though hemorrhoid is not a life-threatening condition but it can badly affect a person’s lifestyle. So under any condition, the symptoms of hemorrhoids should not be overlooked and one should take necessary steps to get rid of this issue completely.