Hemorrhoids are an uncomfortable, though harmless, medical condition in which the veins of the anal canal become swollen. Up to half of all people will experience some form of them during their lifetime.
The condition is caused when too much pressure is put on the pelvic and rectal area veins, causing them to swell. This can be caused by diarrhea or constipation, which causes a person to strain when excreting — directing too much blood through the veins and putting abnormal amounts of pressure on them, causing them to swell and stretch.
The condition can occur to people of all ages, health conditions, races, and backgrounds, but is frequently seen in pregnant woman and overweight people. This is because of increased pressure places on the blood vessels in the anal area.
The condition has several common symptoms, including: bleeding during bowel movements, having an itchy rectum or having pain near or inside the anus.
It can present both externally or internally, meaning that they can be found within the rectum or outside of the anus. Internally they are often small, swollen veins, but can also be larger, sagging veins that bulge out of the anus painfully. Externally, they can appear as hard, itching lumps. They tend to clot until the skin and can be very painful.
Fortunately, they are easily diagnosed and treated. In order to diagnose them, a doctor will take a thorough look at the anal area, often examining it with a gloved finger or and special type of flashlight designed to enter the anal canal. Upon diagnosing the condition, he or she will then outline treatment options.
The most common way to treat mild hemorrhoids is with a hemorrhoid cream. Creams are designed to minimize pain and itching, so that patients don’t scratch the anus and make the problem worse. Doctors often recommend taking warm baths after each bowel movement. This reduces swelling and relaxes the sphincter muscles. Tylenol can also be taken to reduce pain and swelling. Finally, an important aspect in treating hemorrhoids is an increased fiber intake. This can be achieve through eating more fruits and vegetables, as well as taking a daily fiber supplement. It minimizes constipation and the amount of pressure exerted on the pelvic area.
Unfortunately, hemorrhoid cream and warm baths alone are not always able to completely eradicate the condition. If serious issues persist, patients may need to receive an injection. This closes off the vein by creating a scar. Banding and coagulation techniques can also be employed. These focus on sealing off the veins so that no blood can travel through them.
In case of extremely large or uncomfortable lumps, surgery is sometimes the best option. The doctor removes each lump or vein in a traditional procedure known as a hemorrhoidectomy.
Fortunately, a combination of proper diet, hemorrhoid creams and warm baths are simpler methods of greatly reducing symptoms of this uncomfortable — though harmless — medical condition.