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Understanding Hemorrhoids: Causes, Symptoms & What to Do About Them

Hemorrhoids is a condition that affects millions of people globally. It is estimated that around 1 in 20 Americans experience hemorrhoids with roughly half of all adults over 50 affected by the condition. In fact, you could be experiencing hemorrhoids without even knowing!

Well, in this article we’ll tell you everything you should know about hemorrhoids including the causes, symptoms, and appropriate measures that can help you manage, treat, and prevent them.

What Are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swollen veins located in the lower part of the rectum or around the anus. It causes discomfort, itching, and sometimes bleeding. Hemorrhoids can be internal, occurring inside the rectum, or external, forming under the skin around the anus. 

Although severity might vary from one patient to another, the symptoms and treatment options are relatively the same.  

Causes of Hemorrhoids

Generally speaking, hemorrhoids aren’t hereditary diseases. They are often triggered by various factors, primarily increased pressure in the lower rectum. 

This could be due to straining during bowel movements due to constipation or diarrhea, prolonged sitting on the toilet, obesity, pregnancy, and aging. With straining, you increase pressure on the veins in the rectum and anus.

Furthermore, taking a low-fiber diet, insufficient hydration and excessive alcohol consumption contribute to constipation and hard stools.  This can only exacerbate the condition because it causes hard stools that require more rectal pressure. Finally, a sedentary lifestyle can also be a major cause of hemorrhoids. 

Yes, lack of physical activity and prolonged sitting can lead to poor blood circulation in the rectal area, contributing to the development of hemorrhoids.

Symptoms of Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids can cause various symptoms that can affect the quality of your life. Again, symptoms can vary from one person to another but  most of them are common and highly noticeable. 

One of the most common symptoms is pain and discomfort, especially during bowel movements. A large percentage of hemorrhoids patients will likely experience this problem and become more pronounced with severity.  

You might notice itching or irritation around the anal region, along with bleeding during bowel movements. In some cases, hemorrhoids may protrude from the anus, leading to a feeling of a lump or swelling.  The symptoms are more likely to exacerbate with constipation or straining during bowel movements.  

Furthermore, you can also experience rectal bleeding. Here, bright red blood appears in your stool or on toilet paper after wiping. This bleeding is usually painless but can cause concern.

What to Do About Hemorrhoids

Managing hemorrhoids involves a combination of lifestyle changes, home remedies, and seeking the right medical treatments. 

Traditional surgical procedures for hemorrhoids often involved significant pain and longer recovery times. However, advancements in minimally invasive techniques have led to procedures like the rubber band ligation hemorrhoid treatment at Meliora Healthcare. This is a non-surgical procedure that is quick, convenient, and effective with a fast recovery time. During rubber band ligation, the doctor uses a specialized instrument called a ligator, which consists of a small tube attached to a rubber band.

The doctor will then grasp the hemorrhoidal tissue and pull it into the ligator’s tube. Then, a rubber band is released from the ligator and placed around the base of the hemorrhoid. The rubber band effectively cuts off the blood supply to the hemorrhoid, causing it to shrink and eventually fall off within a few days

There are other minimally invasive options like infrared coagulation, and sclerotherapy. These procedures are performed on an outpatient basis, with minimal discomfort and faster recovery times compared to traditional surgery.

Unlike lifestyle and home remedies meant to relieve the pain and discomfort, medical treatments are permanent solutions.  

Prevention of Hemorrhoids

For hemorrhoids there is always a thin line between prevention and treatment. In fact, several treatment options are also equally prevention methods. While some risk factors for hemorrhoids, such as pregnancy or aging, are beyond your control, there are several preventive measures that can reduce the likelihood of developing hemorrhoids or experiencing recurrent episodes.

Hemorrhoids prevention involves maintaining healthy bowel habits and lifestyle practices. Some of these effective practices involve maintaining healthy weight, avoiding straining, engaging in regular exercise, not delaying bowel movements, ensuring proper hygiene after defecation, and consuming a high-fiber diet.  With discipline and consistency, you can seamlessly prevent hemorrhoids without breaking the bank.

Wrapping up

Hemorrhoids affect individuals of all ages and can negatively impact your quality of life.  However, by understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options, you can take appropriate measures to manage and prevent. While there are several treatment and prevention methods, always consult your healthcare professional for proper evaluation, management and treatment.