Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Hemorrhoids, marked by enlarged blood vessels in the rectal and anal region, can lead to feelings of discomfort, pain, and itching. Although hemorrhoids can be troublesome, the encouraging news is that there exist numerous effective treatment options to relieve symptoms and facilitate the healing process. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and various approaches to fixing hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swollen blood vessels located in the rectal and anal area. They can be internal, occurring inside the rectum, or external, forming outside the anus. Hemorrhoids develop when the blood vessels in the affected area become enlarged and swollen, leading to various symptoms.
Causes and Risk Factors:
Several factors can contribute to the development of hemorrhoids, including:
- Straining during bowel movements: Constipation or excessive straining can put pressure on the rectal veins, causing them to swell.
- Chronic diarrhoea: Frequent episodes of diarrhoea can irritate the rectal area and contribute to the formation of hemorrhoids.
- Pregnancy: Increased pressure on the veins in the rectal area during pregnancy, especially during the later stages, can lead to hemorrhoids.
- Obesity: Being overweight or obese puts extra strain on the rectal veins, increasing the risk of hemorrhoids.
- Sedentary lifestyle: Sitting for prolonged periods can impede blood flow to the rectal area and increase the likelihood of developing hemorrhoids.
The symptoms of hemorrhoids can vary depending on their type and severity. Some common signs to watch out for include:
- Itching and irritation around the anus
- Pain or discomfort during bowel movements
- Swelling and inflammation around the anus
- Blood in the stool or on toilet paper after wiping
- A lump or protrusion felt near the anus
It is important to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis if you experience any of these symptoms. They can perform a physical examination and provide appropriate guidance for treatment. Remember, early intervention and adopting healthy habits can help prevent the worsening of hemorrhoids and provide relief from discomfort.
Lifestyle Modifications for Hemorrhoid Relief
Making certain lifestyle modifications can significantly help alleviate symptoms and promote healing of hemorrhoids. Here are some brief explanations of lifestyle changes that can provide relief:
1. Dietary Changes:
A diet rich in fibre can soften the stool, making bowel movements easier and reducing the strain on hemorrhoids. Include foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes in your diet. Additionally, limiting spicy foods and caffeine can help reduce irritation in the rectal area.
2. Hydration and Fibre Intake:
Drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day to maintain proper hydration. Staying hydrated softens the stool and prevents constipation. Alongside hydration, consume an adequate amount of fibre-rich foods or consider fibre supplements as recommended by your healthcare provider.
3. Proper Bathroom Habits:
Avoid straining or prolonged sitting on the toilet, as it can exacerbate hemorrhoids. Respond promptly to the urge to have a bowel movement and try to establish a regular bathroom routine. Also, avoid using excessive force when wiping and opt for gentle, moist wipes or soft toilet paper.
4. Regular Exercise:
Engaging in regular physical activity can help prevent constipation and promote bowel regularity. Exercise improves blood circulation, which aids in reducing the swelling of hemorrhoids. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, such as walking, swimming, or cycling, on most days of the week.
5. Weight Management:
Maintaining a healthy weight reduces the strain on the rectal area and can help prevent the development or worsening of hemorrhoids. If overweight, strive to achieve gradual and sustainable weight loss through a balanced diet and regular exercise.
Remember, these lifestyle modifications should be incorporated into your daily routine consistently to achieve optimal results. Nevertheless, it is essential to seek personalized advice from a healthcare professional to identify the most appropriate approach for your specific condition. Their expertise will guide you towards the best course of action.
Read more: Is a bagel with cream cheese a healthy breakfast
OTC remedies are readily available at pharmacies and can provide temporary relief from hemorrhoid symptoms. Here are some quick descriptions of some popular over-the-counter remedies:
Topical creams and ointments are sold over-the-counter (OTC) and often contain hydrocortisone, witch hazel, or a mix of the two. These goods provide relief from the itch, swelling, and discomfort brought on by haemorrhoids. Follow the instructions on the packaging and apply the cream or ointment to the affected area accordingly.
2. Medicated Wipes:
Medicated wipes are pre-soaked with soothing ingredients like witch hazel or aloe vera. They can be used for gentle cleaning after bowel movements to reduce irritation and provide relief. Ensure the wipes are fragrance-free and avoid harsh rubbing.
3. Oral Pain Relievers:
Haemorrhoids can cause pain and discomfort, but over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can momentarily ease such symptoms. However, if you have any underlying medical conditions or are on other medications, it’s crucial to stick to the advised dosage and seek medical advice.
4. Stool Softeners:
Stool softeners, which are available in oral form, ease bowel motions and prevent constipation. They function by making the stool more water-filled, which makes it softer and less prone to cause discomfort during egress. Prior to using stool softeners, it is vital to adhere to the prescribed dosage instructions and consult with a healthcare provider, particularly if you have any underlying medical concerns.
These over-the-counter medicines can temporarily relieve haemorrhoid symptoms. But it’s important to remember that they might not treat the underlying cause of hemorrhoids. In the event that symptoms persist or worsen despite using over-the-counter remedies, it is advisable to seek the guidance of a healthcare professional for further evaluation and assistance.
In addition to over-the-counter remedies, there are several home remedies that can help alleviate symptoms and promote healing of hemorrhoids. Here are brief explanations of some common home remedies:
1. Sitz Baths:
Sitting in warm water while getting a massage helps to relax the affected area. Spend 10 to 15 minutes in a warm bathtub or basin to benefit from the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects of the water. As necessary, repeat this multiple times each day.
2. Cold Compresses:
Using cold compresses on the injured region can assist reduce swelling and offer momentary pain and itching relief. For a few minutes at a time, apply ice packs or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a clean cloth to the haemorrhoids.
3. Witch Hazel:
Witch hazel is a natural astringent that can help reduce itching, inflammation, and discomfort associated with hemorrhoids. Soak a cotton ball in witch hazel and gently apply it to the affected area. Repeat several times a day for relief.
4. Aloe Vera:
Aloe vera has soothing properties that can provide relief from hemorrhoid symptoms. Apply a small amount of pure aloe vera gel to the affected area and gently massage it in. Repeat this a few times a day for relief.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar:
Apple cider vinegar has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling and discomfort. Dilute apple cider vinegar with an equal amount of water and apply it to the affected area using a cotton ball. Leave it on for a few minutes before rinsing with water. Repeat this a few times a day as needed.
6. Essential Oils:
Two examples of essential oils renowned for their soothing and anti-inflammatory properties are tea tree oil and lavender oil.
Combine a few drops of an essential oil with a carrier oil, like coconut oil, and apply the mixture to the affected area using a clean cloth or cotton ball. Before applying the oils to the skin, exercise caution and make sure they are adequately diluted.
It’s crucial to remember that while home cures can offer comfort, they might not take care of the haemorrhoids’ root causes. Consulting a healthcare practitioner is advised if symptoms increase or continue, since this will allow for a more thorough assessment and direction.
Medical Procedures and Treatments
In cases where lifestyle modifications and home remedies do not provide sufficient relief, medical procedures and treatments may be recommended by healthcare professionals. Here are brief explanations of some common medical interventions for hemorrhoids:
1. Rubber Band Ligation:
In order to stop the flow of blood to an internal haemorrhoid, this treatment includes wrapping a tiny rubber band around the hemorrhoid’s base. Within a few days, the haemorrhoid ultimately gets smaller and falls out. Internal haemorrhoids can be treated successfully using rubber band ligation, which is commonly done in a doctor’s office.
Sclerotherapy entails injecting a chemical solution into the haemorrhoid, which causes it to contract and eventually vanish. Since it is less intrusive than other treatments, this method is typically used to treat internal haemorrhoids.
3. Infrared Coagulation:
Using infrared light to generate scar tissue, infrared coagulation shrinks haemorrhoids by cutting off their blood supply. For the treatment of internal haemorrhoids, it is a common non-surgical method.
To remove big or seriously symptomatic internal or external haemorrhoids, a surgical operation called a hemorrhoidectomy is carried out under general anaesthesia. It involves cutting out the hemorrhoid tissue. Recovery from a hemorrhoidectomy may take a few weeks, and it is usually reserved for severe cases.
5. Stapled Hemorrhoidopexy:
Also known as stapled hemorrhoidectomy, this procedure is performed to treat prolapsed hemorrhoids. It involves using a circular stapling device to reposition the hemorrhoidal tissue and restore its normal position within the anus. Stapled hemorrhoidopexy is considered less painful than traditional hemorrhoidectomy and usually has a shorter recovery time.
The choice of medical procedure or treatment depends on the severity and type of hemorrhoids, as well as individual patient factors. It is essential to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate option based on your specific condition.
Prevention and Maintenance of Hemorrhoids
Taking preventive measures and practising proper maintenance can help reduce the risk of developing hemorrhoids and minimize their recurrence. Here are brief explanations of key strategies for prevention and maintenance:
1. Healthy Lifestyle Habits:
Consume a sufficient amount of fibre-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, as part of a healthy, balanced diet. This lessens the tension on the rectal area by encouraging frequent bowel movements and preventing constipation.
2. Upholding Good Hygiene:
Keep the anal area clean by maintaining good hygiene. After urinating, clean your hands gently with fragrance-free wipes or soft toilet paper. Avoid excessive wiping, which can irritate the area, and consider using a bidet or washing with lukewarm water for thorough cleansing.
3. Avoiding Straining and Prolonged Sitting:
Avoid excessive straining during bowel movements as it can increase the pressure on the rectal veins and contribute to hemorrhoid development. Additionally, try to avoid sitting or standing for extended periods of time because these activities can prevent appropriate blood flow to the anal region.
4. Recurring Medical Exams:
Make an appointment with a doctor for routine checkups, especially if you have a history of haemorrhoids or have symptoms that don’t go away. Routine examinations can help detect and address hemorrhoid-related issues at an early stage.
It is important to note that while preventive measures can help reduce the risk of hemorrhoids, they may not guarantee complete prevention. Factors such as genetics, pregnancy, and certain medical conditions can still contribute to their development. If you have a predisposition to hemorrhoids or are experiencing recurrent symptoms, consulting with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and management strategies is recommended.
Haemorrhoids can be a painful and bothersome condition, they can be properly controlled and treated with the right strategy. People can find relief and enhance their quality of life by changing their lifestyles, using over-the-counter medications, attempting home cures, and seeking medical interventions when necessary. Keep in mind that the optimal course of action for your particular situation must be determined in consultation with a healthcare practitioner. With patience, perseverance, and a comprehensive approach, fixing hemorrhoids is possible, allowing individuals to regain comfort and get back to living their lives to the fullest.
Dr. Shraddha S. Chouhan is here. I’m an Indian dentist. I’m currently wrapping up my internship. I fell in love with human body health and its various aspects while working in the medical field, beginning with science. During my final year of dental school, I began practising yoga and learning about organic food, a healthy lifestyle, and the benefits it has on our human bodies. Learning more about organic food and its importance to our health has astounded me. Now I’m on a mission to learn more about healthy eating, living, and organic food.