How surprising would it be to read that approximately 75% of adults suffer from hemorrhoids? As surprising as it may sound, it is actually true. Hemorrhoids are that common. What exactly are we talking about? You don`t know yet? Read on!
What are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, can be described as varicose veins that occur around the rectal area, either internally or externally. So we can simply say that hemorrhoids are the outcome of swollen veins in the rectal area. External hemorrhoids, however, are likely to cause more discomfort than internal ones. They require more treatment too. Generally speaking, hemorrhoids are usually asymptomatic, causing persons to have no idea of their existence.
Causes of Hemorrhoids
- Sitting for long periods of time on the toilet
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation
- Straining during bowel movements
- Anal intercourse
- Low-fiber diet
Symptoms of Hemorrhoids
As earlier mentioned, a number of people have hemorrhoids but are unaware because no symptoms show up.
These, however, are common symptoms indicative of hemorrhoid:
Itching and Irritation
Sudden itching and irritation in the rectal region are some of the signs of hemorrhoids. Ensure you don`t get things mixed up: sometimes, a parasitic infection or a fast-spreading rash may cause these symptoms. Rashes that spread fast usually show that one has a fungal infection, which can be treated with topical antimycotic preparations.
In the case of hemorrhoids, they actually become itchy and inflamed because the formed lump can actually ooze mucus, causing the skin area surrounding to develop a localized rash.
Rectal fullness is the sensation of constantly needing to empty the bowels, even though there is nothing there. This usually results from internal hemorrhoids. It tends to block a significant degree of the rectal passage and brings about a feeling of being “blocked up”.
Bleeding is quite common among people who have hemorrhoids. Bleeding in hemorrhoids usually occurs as a result of straining or irritation that occurs as fecal matter is passed. This may damage the surface of the protruding vein, resulting in bleeding. Sometimes, internal hemorrhoids may protrude out of the rectum and bleed; this is called “prolapsed hemorrhoid”.
The pain that comes with hemorrhoid is present because of the blood clots that form. When they form, blood flow is blocked through the rest of the blood vessel, and pain is triggered because of the immense pressure buildup that compresses nerves in the rectal area.
If the pain gets so severe, a doctor could lance it through to remove the blockage, and relieve the ensuing pressure buildup. This, however, is not a permanent fix.
External hemorrhoids are much likely to leave a hard lump where they develop These lumps are usually painful because clots usually form below the surface, compressing nerves around the area. Secondary infections are common with external hemorrhoids because the pain resulting from the lumps may prevent sufficient cleaning and contribute to the harboring of bacteria.
This is more common with internal hemorrhoids that have prolapsed through the rectum. This leads to a complete closure of the sphincter muscle, leading to the inability to properly retain fecal matter.
The treatment of hemorrhoids can be done in different ways, depending on its accompanying symptoms.
Let`s take a look at the most common approaches to treating hemorrhoids.
Because secondary infections are causes of hemorrhoid, maintaining good hygiene helps to reduce the likelihood of further complications. You may use a soft washcloth with warm water to clean the area if toilet paper aggravates you or prevents appropriate cleaning.
Shrinkage of the Protruding Vein
This involves the use of vasoconstrictors — substances that help to shrink blood vessels. Witch hazel, preparation H ointment, and suppositories are examples. Reducing the swelling in conjunction with topical corticosteroids is also helpful in controlling painful flare-ups.
Stool softeners are used to treat hemorrhoids because constipation is a major contributor to hemorrhoids. Stool softeners are not laxatives, they only help stool to retain water so that passing it out does not cause straining or take much effort, ensuring that there`s drastic reduction in the likelihood of bleeding and pain to occur.
Fiber supplements add bulk to stool, making it less compact and easier to pass. Low fiber consumption is a major contributing factor to the development of hemorrhoids. Getting adequate fiber in your diet goes a long way to prevent the occurrence of hemorrhoid.
Inflammation leads to pain and compression of nerves. Now, this makes the entire rectal area highly sensitive and causes some discomfort while sitting. A home remedy to reducing inflammation is by soaking the area intolerably warm water for about 15 minutes.
In addition, over-the-counter preparations that include local anesthetics and corticosteroids also reduce inflammation significantly and are quite helpful in the management of hemorrhoids, especially prolapsed internal hemorrhoids and external ones.
A surgery can be done, in which a doctor may obstruct the affected blood vessel to stop blood flow to it. An injection of chemicals which cause scarring of hemorrhoid and a decrease in size can also be done.
Of all forms of treatment, surgical removal is best because it involves a low risk of recurrence. However, it takes the longest time for recovery.
A prolapsed internal hemorrhoid:
- May enlarge and swell more if it cannot be pushed back.
- May become entrapped, which requires more urgent medical attention
- Can be felt as a lump outside the anus
- Can be gently pushed back through the anus — this may resolve the location of hemorrhoid, however, it does not fix hemorrhoid itself.
- If left untreated, hemorrhoids can get progressively worse over time, growing in both size and number.
- Most chronic sufferers develop hemorrhoids in three locations.
Debunking Hemorrhoids Myths
Myth 1: Everyone Has Hemorrhoids
Everyone has veins in the rectum. It is when these veins become swollen that we say one has hemorrhoids. So not everyone has hemorrhoids.
Myth 2: Hemorrhoids are Caused by Sitting on Extremely Hot or Cold Surfaces
The temperature of a surface which one sits on does not cause hemorrhoids, neither does it have any impact on the condition. It is sitting for long periods, not the temperature of the seat, that increases the risk.
Myth 3: Only Unhealthy People Have Hemorrhoids
Really, anyone can suffer hemorrhoids, healthy or healthy. Eating a balanced diet, however, reduces the risk of getting it.
Myth 4: It’s an Old Person’s Condition
Hemorrhoids can affect the young and old. Yes, the risk increases with age, because the body`s supporting tissues get weaker. However, it can affect people of any age, as it is triggered by factors such as excessive straining during bowel movements, and from chronic diarrhea or constipation. It may also affect women in the latter stages of pregnancy. or those who have just been through labor.
Myth 5: Spicy Foods Cause Hemorrhoids
There is really no evidence to suggest that hemorrhoids can be caused by spicy foods, however, such foods may cause stomach upset, hence bringing about some discomfort for people with hemorrhoids when passing stool. It may also contribute to diarrhea, which could be really painful.
Prevent it. Cure it. Whatever needs to be done, get rid of hemorrhoids!