Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids or piles are nothing but the veins near the rectum and anus get swollen and cause pain, due to constant pressure during bowel movement, especially in constipation.

When they are found externally on the edge of the anus in the form of a painful lump, then they are referred to as external hemorrhoids.

If they are present inside the rectum, then they are called as internal hemorrhoids.

Sometimes, the hemorrhoids stretch out of the anus and they can be pushed back inside. Such hemorrhoids are known as prolapsed hemorrhoids.

It is reported that hemorrhoids are found in 75% of people at some point in their lives. It is equally found in both men and women between the age groups of 45 to 60 years of age.

Symptoms

The hemorrhoids can be located externally or internally to the anus.

In case of internal hemorrhoids, they are located inside the rectum and protrude out because of straining during bowel movement.

In case of external hemorrhoids, they are present around the anus and any strain or irritation causes them to bleed resulting in blood clot formation which causes pain and swelling in the area.

The symptoms of hemorrhoids include;

  • Bleeding during strained bowel movement
  • Irritation and itching in the anal region
  • Protrusion of hemorrhoids from the anus
  • Pain and swelling near the anus and feces leakage

Causes

Hemorrhoids are caused due to increased pressure in the lower rectum. When you are suffering from conditions like constipation, there is excess strain that is applied for bowel movement. This results in formation of hemorrhoids.

In case you are sitting for too long on the toilet seat, this also causes increased pressure in the rectal area, leading to the formation of hemorrhoids.

The other reasons that may cause hemorrhoids are;

  • Diarrhea
  • Anal intercourse
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Lifting weights
  • Standing for a long time

Defeating Hemorrhoids

Historians believe that the Great French General, Napoleon Bonaparte suffered from hemorrhoids. On the day of the Waterloo, he had intense pain due to hemorrhoids that made him delay the attack, and later when he did, the weather changed for the worst. He also had to ride on a side saddle to avoid pain due to hemorrhoids.

Ultimately, the culprit behind Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo are said to be the hemorrhoids. Fortunately, in today’s times you can certainly defeat hemorrhoids by taking all the preventive measures and necessary treatment advised by your doctor.

Prevention

It is advised that you eat foods with high fiber content that soften the stools like whole grains, vegetables and fruits. This will reduce the straining during bowel movements and thus prevent hemorrhoid formation.

You must also make sure that you drink 6 to 8 glasses of water or fruit juices daily to keep the stools soft.

Over the counter fiber supplements like Citrucel and Metamucil help keep the stools soft.

Avoid using laxatives.

Try not to put too much strain or holding your breath while passing stools.

Exercising daily is a must as it keeps off unhealthy weight which is one of the causes of hemorrhoids.

The doctor does a physical examination of rectum and anus to check for external hemorrhoids.

To look for internal hemorrhoids, the doctor would insert his rubber gloved finger into the anus and feel for internal hemorrhoids.

To view the rectum, an anascope is used which is a tube with a light at its end.

A colonoscopy can also be performed which is a procedure in which a thin flexible tube with a camera at its end is passed from the anus into the rectum and colon. The images taken of rectum and colon by this procedure are studied by the doctor for any abnormalities. To view the colon in the X ray, barium is inserted into the colon in the form of enema ( liquids passed through anus) which helps to dye the colon and make it more visible to the doctor.

In a procedure known as sigmoidoscopy, a thin flexible tube with camera at its end is passed into the sigmoid colon (lower part of colon) to take images of it to check for any abnormalities.

Here are few treatments for hemorrhoids mentioned below:

  • To treat mild forms of hemorrhoids that cause little discomfort, the doctor may prescribe over the counter ointments, suppositories or pads and creams that have ingredients like hydrocortisone or witch hazel that help in temporarily relieving itching and pain.
  • If a blood clot has formed in an external hemorrhoid, the doctor removes it by simple incision to give relief.
  • To treat internal hemorrhoids, the doctor uses two or three rubber bands and binds the hemorrhoid at its base to cut off its blood supply. After a few days the hemorrhoid falls off on its own. This procedure is known as rubber band ligation.
  • Another method to shrink hemorrhoids is using heat, infrared light or laser. In a procedure known as sclerotherapy, a chemical is injected into the hemorrhoid to shrink it.
  • In case of large hemorrhoids, surgery is recommended to get rid of the pain and obtain hemorrhoid relief. In a surgical procedure known as hemorrhoidectomy, the excess tissue causing bleeding is surgically removed. In a procedure known as stapled hemorrhoidectomy, the blood flow to the hemorrhoid is cut off by stapling.
  • You must keep the anal area clean by washing it with warm water. Try not to use soap as it may aggravate the irritation. After cleaning you can dry the area with a hair dryer to keep the area dry.
  • If there is swelling, you can use cold ice packs in the area. Try getting a seat bath from your local pharmacy. Try using a wet toilet paper or moist towels that are free of any perfume or alcohol.