What Are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in the lower rectum or anus. By age 50, about half of adults have had to deal with the discomfort, pain and bleeding that can signal the presence of hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids are common. In fact, about one in every 20 people has hemorrhoids at any given time. And about half of adults experience hemorrhoids at some point in their lives.
Hemorrhoid symptoms can include finding bright red blood on your toilet paper or seeing blood in the toilet after a bowel movement. Other common symptoms include anal itching and pain or discomfort during bowel movements. You may also be able to feel a lump near your anus, which can make sitting uncomfortable.
There are two types of hemorrhoids: internal and external. Internal hemorrhoids form inside the rectum and anal canal, where they may bleed but usually do not cause discomfort. External hemorrhoids form under the skin around the anus and can cause bleeding, itching, irritation and pain. Hemorrhoids can develop during pregnancy or from straining during bowel movements because of constipation or diarrhea. Obesity, chronic coughing and vomiting also may play a role by placing extra pressure on veinsprone to developing into hemorrhoids.
So what are hemorrhoids? Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus and lower rectum. They're usually caused by straining during bowel movements, pregnancy, and childbirth. They can also be caused by sitting for long periods of time. Symptoms include bleeding during bowel movements, itchiness, and pain. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition.
Types Of Hemorrhoids
There are two types of hemorrhoids: Internal and External. Internal hemorrhoids form just under the surface of the anus and are often unnoticeable unless they bleed during a bowel movement. If they bulge, you may be able to see or feel them as moist pads of tissue that are pinker than the surrounding area. External hemorrhoids form under the skin on the outside edge of the anus. They can be itchy and painful, and can sometimes crack and bleed.
Causes Of Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids are caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Constipation or straining during bowel movements
- Sitting for long periods of time
- Chronic diarrhea
- Anal intercourse
There are two types of hemorrhoids: internal and external. Internal hemorrhoids are located inside the rectum (the last part of the large intestine) and are not usually visible. External hemorrhoids are located under the skin around the anus (the opening through which stool is passed).
Symptoms Of Hemorrhoids
There are a number of different symptoms that can be associated with hemorrhoids, and not all patients will experience all symptoms. The most common symptom is bleeding, which can occur during bowel movements or at other times. Patients may also experience itching, pain, or lumpiness in the anal area. In some cases, hemorrhoids can prolapse, or extend out of the anus. This can lead to additional pain and discomfort.
Diagnosis Of Hemorrhoids
There are a number of different ways to diagnose hemorrhoids, depending on the severity of the condition. In most cases, a doctor will be able to diagnose hemorrhoids simply by looking at them. In more severe cases, a doctor may need to perform a digital rectal exam, in which they insert a gloved finger into the rectum to feel for any unusual bumps or growths. If the hemorrhoids are large and bleeding, a doctor may need to perform a sigmoidoscopy, in which they insert a small camera into the rectum to get a better look at the hemorrhoids.
Treatment Of Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids are usually the result of straining during a bowel movement. This can occur during pregnancy or childbirth, or from constipation. Hemorrhoids may also be caused by sitting on the toilet for a long time. Treatment of hemorrhoids typically involves a combination of home remedies, such as sitz baths and ice packs, as well as over-the-counter or prescription medications.
Home Remedies For Hemorrhoids
- Soak in a warm Sitz bath. A warm bath can help soothe the irritation from hemorrhoids. You’ll sit in about inches of warm water for about 15 minutes.
- Apply an over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream or suppository containing hydrocortisone and lidocaine. This can temporarily relieve pain, itchiness, and swelling.
- Take oral pain relievers. acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) can help relieve pain from hemorrhoids.
- Eat high-fiber foods. Include plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet. Eat more beans, nuts, and seeds to add even more fiber to your diet.
- Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water per day to help keep stools soft so they are easier to pass and less likely to irritate your hemorrhoids.
Medical Treatment For Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lower rectum or anus. They can be painful and bleeding. The most common cause of hemorrhoids is straining during bowel movements. Other causes include pregnancy, obesity, and diarrhea. Hemorrhoids can be treated with lifestyle changes, over-the-counter medications, or surgery
Prevention Of Hemorrhoids
Although anyone can get hemorrhoids, they are most common among adults aged 45 to 65 years. Hemorrhoids often happen when you have hard stools or you strain when having a bowel movement. Other risk factors include pregnancy, aging and chronic constipation or diarrhea. You can often relieve the mild pain, swelling and inflammation of hemorrhoids with home treatments. Often “natural” home remedies for hemorrhoids don't work and some may even make your symptoms worse.
There are many ways people may try to shrink down painful hemorrhoids, which might be helpful at best or harmful at worst. Who hasn't tried a home remedy for hemorrhoids at some point? These may include:
- A high-fiber diet: This will make stools softer and easier to pass, reducing the pressure on hemorrhoids caused by straining. Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and nuts. Good sources of fiber are bran cereal, strawberries, avocado, prunes and lentils. The American Dietetic Association (ADA) recommends 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed — so a diet of 2,000 calories would include 28 grams of fiber.
- Adequate fluid intake: This helps keep stools soft so they're easier to pass. The ADA recommends 8 to 10 cups (64 to 80 ounces) of fluid daily for people eating 2,000 calories per day. That doesn't mean 8 to 10 cups of water per day — all fluids count toward this goal including juice and milk as well as coffee, tea and soda (but go easy on the caffeine and sugar).
- Regular exercise: This helps reduce constipation by stimulating bowel movements. It can also help you lose weight if you're overweight, which can contribute to hemorrhoids.
When To See A Doctor
If you have any of the following symptoms, consult your doctor:
- Anal bleeding that lasts more than a week
- Severe anal pain
- Anal itching that lasts more than a week
You also should see your doctor if you're having difficulty cleaning the area around your anus after a bowel movement or if blood stains appear on your toilet tissue.
Complications Of Hemorrhoids
If you have hemorrhoids, you may experience one or more of the following complications:
- Anemia. This can occur if you lose a lot of blood from hemorrhoids.
- Liver damage. This can occur if the blood vessels in your rectum and anus become damaged.
- Infection. This can occur if the tissue around your hemorrhoids becomes infected.