What are hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids are veins that swell around the anal area or near the lower rectum. This is a condition which is said to affect almost half of all the adults by the time they reach 50 years. This does not mean that only people between the ages of 45 to 65 are the only ones susceptible to hemorrhoids. Even children and young adults can develop them.
Statistics simply show that 75% of adults in North America and Europe will definitely get hemorrhoids at a certain point of their lives. The other fact is that men are more likely than women to get hemorrhoids but women are more likely to get them when they are expectant.
With such statistics out there it is important to delve into the subject and get to understand what hemorrhoids are, the types, risk factors, symptoms and treatment. Above all you will learn about the home remedies for hemorrhoids.
Types And Stages Of Hemorrhoids
Not all hemorrhoids are the same. They come in different ways and shapes. There are four types of hemorrhoids namely;
- Internal hemorrhoids
- External hemorrhoids
- Thrombosed hemorrhoids
- Prolapsed hemorrhoids
These are hemorrhoids that develop as a result of heavy pressure on the internal veins. These hemorrhoids are found on the higher side of the rectum’s lining and most of the times you cannot feel them unless they increase in size which means they are painless.
You can only know that you have developed such when you bleed during bowel movement. The sign in this case is blood on the tissue paper or in the stool. In worse cases internal hemorrhoids can protrude externally to the point they can be felt as moist skin pads around the anus.
These are hemorrhoids that have throbbed out of the anal cavity. Not only are they extremely painful but they also bleed as well. This brings about a painful burning effect. While passing stool it can be felt.
There is usually a buildup of blood clot which leads to another painful condition of thrombosis. In this case the hemorrhoid will look deadly and is blue or purple in color however this should not frighten you.
It can be very painful but not so serious and can even heal in a matter of weeks but if symptoms don’t go away then you will need to see a doctor.
This result when there are blood clots on external hemorrhoids. This brings about vein inflammation and the blood supply is stopped.
If this happens, the hemorrhoids split up and there will be clots forming under the skin. When it reaches this point then the only way out is through surgery.
When the hemorrhoidal tissues weaken, they slip below the anal cavity. These ones are even more painful since the anal area is full of nerves that are very sensitive to pain.
The hemorrhoids might fall back into the rectum but even they don’t do one their own, they can still be pushed inside.
Hemorrhoids develop in stages and each stage has its own characteristics. The stages are referred to as grades.
Stage 1: This is the first stage and it is characterized by internal hemorrhoids which have not yet sunk. The hemorrhoids are painless and there are no physical signs to show hemorrhoid development. In some instances there some discomfort and mild itching.
Stagee 2: This is said to be the stage of prolapses. The tissues weaken and fall making the hemorrhoids slip out of the canal but this can be reversed.
Stagee 3: There is prolapsis but in this stage, it cannot be reversed.
Stagee 4: The hemorrhoids are all out hanging. They are prone to bleeding and infection and there is tremendous pain.
Symptoms of hemorrhoids
- Extreme itching around the anal area.
- Pain and irritation around the anus
- Fecal leakage
- Blood on the tissue
- Pain during bowel movement
It is important to note that hemorrhoids are painful but they are not a life threatening condition. Some can go away without any treatment. Those which occur frequently can make one develop symptoms of anemia such as pale skin and weakness.
What causes hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids can occur due to several reasons but the most prevalent are strenuous bowel movement, sitting long periods in the toilet and chronic constipation.
This is because all these disrupt the smooth blood flow to and from those body areas causing the vessels to enlarge. This is also the explanation why pregnant women get hemorrhoids because the enlarged uterus is pressing the veins.
Medical studies in the recent years have revealed that hemorrhoid patients usually have an anal canal tone that is rested which means that the muscle in the anal canal is tighter than usual. Constipation will only make matters worse since it means putting pressure on the canal and pushing hemorrhoids hard on the sphincter.
Do not take bowel and bladder control for granted. It is estimated that 32 million people in America have incontinence which means they cannot hold it in. this can be treated effectively.
Hemorrhoid risk factors
As much as statistics show that almost every adult will or has suffered from hemorrhoids, the risk can be minimized when people get to know what makes them susceptible to developing hemorrhoids.
If these factors are controlled or prevented then there are minimal chances of going through a lot of pain.
Things that increase your hemorrhoid risk
Constipation or diarrhea that does not go away. These conditions may lead to straining with bowel movements.
- Constant constipation. This is constipation that occurs frequently which leads to the straining during bowel movements.
- Being overweight.
- Coming from a family history with hemorrhoid cases.
- Being older than 50 years.
- Being pregnant and also going through labor and delivery. An expanding uterus puts more pressure on the blood vessels located in the pelvic region. The strain of labor during delivery also makes matters worse.
- Liver or heart disease and even both since the two can cause blood to move back in the abdomen and pelvis.
Things that worsen hemorrhoids
There are those who know what to do to minimize their chances of getting hemorrhoids but in case someone already has them then there is need to know what to avoid. This is so that you do not worsen the condition.
What you should not do when you have hemorrhoids
- Sitting down for longer hours. Sitting or standing for longer hours causes blood to be withheld in the anal area hence increasing pressure on the veins.
- Lifting heavy things frequently or even holding your breath while doing so
Who gets hemorrhoids
No one is immune to hemorrhoids but there are those who are at a higher risk depending on the risk factors.
What can a person do about hemorrhoids
Most of the times hemorrhoids are a temporary condition infact the main issue in most cases is constipation. Constipation is something that can be prevented and as in all cases, prevention is better than cure.
In order to prevent constipation a proper diet is necessary. In this case, a diet rich in fibre will do. Green leafy vegetables, fleshy fruits and whole grain cereals will soften stools.
Plus you must drink plenty of water daily to ensure your digestive system is well lubricated. Foods such as cheese, meat, ice cream and white bread should be avoided since they are low on fibre.
Alcohol is a no go zone but you can focus on other fluids like soups. You should also strive to keep fit so that blood does not pool in one single area due to sitting or standing for long periods of time.
How to deal with hemorrhoids due to constipation
It is advised to take bulk laxatives such as bran psyllium. This is because other types of laxatives can bring about diarrhea which in most cases even worsen the hemorrhoids.
If you feel like you need to go to the bathroom even though you just left, do not hesitate. The longer you wait to go, the harder and drier your stool becomes. This of course results in more pain.
Tips on how to treat hemorrhoids pain
There are lots of hemorrhoid anti-pain drugs in stores but unfortunately not many of them are effective pain killers.
Some of these drugs have even proven to be more harmful if used in large quantities and for prolonged period of time hence the need for a better alternative. You should talk to a medical practitioner so as to find out what exactly will work for you.
- Take warm baths thrice or four times daily. Ensure that you soak yourself inside the bathtub.
- For swelling to go down use some ice packs
- After every bowel movement you should clean your anus gently. You should use something moist like baby wipes. You can also rinse yourself in the shower but you should only pat the area, avoid rubbing.
- Take some acetaminophen such as Tylenol and Panadol for the pain. You might as well take Ibuprofen or even aspirin.
- Witch hazel is great for numbing so use a cream that has it. Creams that contain hydrocortisone can also be used for pain and itching.
- You should avoid straining or lifting heavy things.
- If pain flares up then you should stay in bed even if it is for a whole day.
- You should not use hemorrhoid medication without first of all consulting a doctor.
These tips also work when it comes to dealing with bleeding hemorrhoids.
Home Remedies For Hemorrhoids
If you are not a fanatic of modern day medication then the next best thing you can work with is home remedies. The first one on the list is apple cider vinegar.
All you need to do is take a soft cloth or some tissue paper and soak a part of it in the ACV then apply on the affected area. Do this every day until inflammation subsides. Improvement is instant. You can as well pour some in your bath water.
Witch Hazel has some great healing qualities when it comes to hemorrhoids. All you need to do is soak a cotton ball or pad in ointment or cream and apply on the affected area.
Rutin is another great natural remedy for hemorrhoids. It is actually a plant extract that is present in asparagus, lemon, oranges, buckwheat, cranberries just to mention a few. It usually available in supplement form and in this case go for organic supplements. It will get rid of the inflammation and also reduce the size of the hemorrhoid.
Aloe Vera also works well and is applied as the same way as Witch Hazel and Apple Cider Vinegar.
Coconut oil is applied directly onto the affected area. This should be done daily or even several times in a day if possible. All you need to do is rinse and reapply. The symptoms will subside and the hemorrhoids will disappear in a matter of days.
How you sit is also of great importance. This pertains specifically to the toilet. Sitting during bowel movements is not healthy as it adds more pressure on the rectum while squatting eases it.
So if you can, be squatting during toilet sessions as this also helps to not only prevent but also relieve hemorrhoid symptoms.
When should you seek medical attention
Although most hemorrhoid cases can be treated via over the counter drugs or home remedies, some cases are complicated and will need serious medical attention.
Even though such cases are rare, it is important to the signs to look out for so that you can rush to the doctor immediately.
Signs of severe complications of hemorrhoids
- Rectal pain
- You feel there is a lump in the anus
- There is no improvement despite the steps taken like a diet rich in fibre, use of home remedies, or over the counter medicine.
- If you have been diagnosed with hemorrhoids several times.
When all has been done and yet nothing seems to work, the next best thing is surgery.
Hemorrhoid surgery is for people who do not respond to any other kind of treatment. This is usually opted for as a last resort. It is the only way long term relief can be guaranteed.
There are different types of hemorrhoid surgery that can be performed on a patient.
Types of hemorrhoid surgery
This is surgery done to remove hemorrhoids. In this procedure, the surgeon makes incisions around the anal area so as to cut out the hemorrhoids.
Local anesthesia is administered to numb the area to be operate on while the patient can as well be awake incase general anesthesia is used the patient will be put to sleep. Hemorrhoidectomy is an outpatient procedure and therefore a patient can go home the same day.
The upside is that the bleeding, swelling and pain are done away with but since the procedure is done in an area which is highly sensitive stiches might be necessary hence making recovery a painful process.
The procedure for prolapse and hemorrhoids, PPH
The PPH procedure aims to treat hemorrhoids or the condition whereby the hemorrhoids have gotten out of the anal canal. During the procedure, a stapler kind of device is what repositions the hemorrhoids hence cutting off their blood supply.
This ensures that the hemorrhoids die. The procedure is minimally invasive and the hemorrhoids are moved high up in the anus to an area that is not so sensitive hence the pain experienced is minimal.
Benefits of PPH include:
- Minimal pain experienced
- Quicker recovery.
- The complications are fewer, like less bleeding and itching.
Other surgical options
There are other hemorrhoid treatment options that are minimally invasive for instance the use of a rubber band in rubber band ligation.
In this procedure a rubber band is tied around the hemorrhoids base so as to cut off its blood supply resulting in the death of the tissue. This of course is done in the area that has less pain receptors.
Sclerotherapy is also effective whereby the blood vessels neighboring the hemorrhoids are injected with a chemical solution so that the hemorrhoid shrinks and dies.
In other cases, a specific laser beam is used to burn the hemorrhoids.
These methods are all effective but not as much as hemorrhoidectomy since it is the only procedure that guarantees long term results. You should however consult a doctor first and they will help you find an appropriate surgical procedure.
The risks of hemorrhoid surgery
As much as hemorrhoid surgery is regarded to be safe there are several risks that may occur for instance bleeding, reaction to anesthesia or infection. There are patients who experience difficulty when urinating since the pain makes it hard to relax and release the pee.
The anal sphincter might also get damaged which causes pain or even accidental bowel leakage. People usually have a problem controlling feces or even gas.
Preparing for the surgery
When you make an appointment you should also ask if there are certain things you should or should not do. First of all write down all the symptoms that you have had and the period they have been occurring.
You should also put down your diet especially the amount of fibre you take and your normal bowel movements.
You should write down a list of all the medication you have taken including home remedies or supplements. Then next write down the questions you want to ask your doctor. Why is it necessary to write down questions? It is because the time you spend with your doctor is very limited and you should make the most of it so go prepared.
Some of the questions to ask the doctor about hemorrhoid treatment
- What could be causing your symptoms?
- Is the condition temporary or complicated?
- What risks are you prone to?
- What treatment would be recommendable for you?
- What happens if treatment does not work?
- What self-care steps should you take?
- Are you a surgery candidate?
- What if you have other medical problems, what can be done?
Ask all that you can even if you forgot to put it down on paper.
What should you expect from the doctor
A good doctor will always ask questions so you should be ready to answer them so that you save time and get to the point. Some of the questions you might be asked are;
- When did your symptoms first occur?
- How uncomfortable are the symptoms?
- What are your typical bowel habits?
- How much fibre do you eat daily?
- Have you seen any blood dripping in the toilet or on the tissue?
What you can do while waiting for surgery or before seeing the doctor
While you are waiting for your appointment to actualize you can take certain steps to ease things. You should continue eating food rich in fibre, drink at least eight glasses of water daily. All this will help to soften your stools.
How long do hemorrhoids last?
If your hemorrhoids are small, your symptoms may clear up in a few days without treatment. You may also need to make simple diet and lifestyle changes. Prolapsed hemorrhoids might take a longer period to heal since they are usually removed surgically.
For expectant women who develop hemorrhoids during pregnancy, after nine months everything will be back to normal.
All in all pictures of hemorrhoids depict a condition that is nasty when not dealt with hence the need to take preventive steps instead of curative to be on the safe side.