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Hemorrhoids: All You Need to Know About This Condition

What are hemorrhoids?|Symptoms of hemorrhoids|Causes & Risk Factors|How are hemorrhoids treated?|Prevention
Hemorrhoids: All You Need to Know About This Condition

Hemorrhoids are a common condition that most people will experience at some point in their lives. Discomfort caused by hemorrhoids can vary from very minimal pain, to more serious pain that might require surgery in order to treat.

What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids can refer to both the condition, as well as veins that are located in your rectum or anus. These veins can swell and become larger if a person has chronic constipation or strains too much when they pass stool. Over time, the veins become varicose veins, and patients experience the symptoms associated with hemorrhoids.

Internal and external hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids come in two forms, internal and external.

Internal hemorrhoids are located in the rectum. These types of hemorrhoids are usually painless, and usually don’t cause any symptoms. However, it is possible for internal hemorrhoids to sometimes cause bleeding, and to get worse over time.

Internal hemorrhoids can sometimes bulge and “droop” down and out of the anus. Doctors refer to this as a prolapsed hemorrhoid. Experiencing a prolapse is very painful, and patients would need to undergo treatment or surgery in order to fix the problem.

External hemorrhoids on the other hand affect the veins around the anus. This type can also be very painful, and patients can sometimes feel it as hard bumps around their anus. Passing stool can be very painful, as more pressure gets applied on the veins.

These can go away over time, but if it gets worse, treatment might be required.

Prolapsed, Internal, and External Hemorrhoids: What You Need to Know

Symptoms of hemorrhoids

The symptoms of hemorrhoids can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. Here are some symptoms that you need to watch out for:

  • Small amount of bleeding (fresh blood) when you pass stool; usually painless
  • Itchiness or pain around the anus
  • Feeling hard bumps or lumps around the anus
  • Pain when passing stool

Patients may also feel a small fleshy mass that may be protruding out of their anus. Sometimes it may be reducible–may become smaller or bigger, or can be pushed back inside.

They need to check if the mass becomes bigger and more painful, or still reducible.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it would be best to talk to your doctor about it.

Causes & Risk Factors

A number of things can cause people to develop hemorrhoids. Here are some of the possible causes:

  • Having a low fiber diet
  • Chronic constipation
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Straining too much when passing stool
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Sitting on the toilet for an extended period of time

What are the risk factors?

As a person grows older, the muscles that control their bowel movements can stretch and get weaker. Over time, this increases a person’s risk for developing hemorrhoids.

Additionally, pregnant women might also experience this as the weight of the baby puts strain on the muscles of the anus. This is why pregnant women have a higher risk of developing this condition compared to others.

How are hemorrhoids treated?

Hemorrhoids can be treated with over-the-counter medication, with medical assistance, or through surgery.

The forms of treatment vary depending on the location, type, and severity of the condition. Here are some of the common forms of treatment that are available:

Over-the-counter medication

For mild to moderate cases, there are creams and ointments available that help reduce swelling and pain. Though, these creams are usually for external cases, and not for the other types.

There are also suppositories, or a round or cone-shaped form of medication inserted into the anus. Suppositories are designed specifically for treating internal cases and can provide relief as well as reduce swelling.

Rubber band ligation

If the hemorrhoid can’t be treated through over-the-counter medication, then rubber band ligation is a possible option. It uses small rubber bands that are tied around the hemorrhoid, which cuts off blood flow, and can eventually cause it to fall off.

Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy uses certain types of medication which are injected directly into the veins of the rectum or anus. This helps reduce the size of the vein which can, over time, reduce swelling and get the hemorrhoid back to normal.

Surgery

In cases where other forms of treatment are insufficient, surgery might be required. This procedure is effective for prolapsed hemorrhoids, and causes very few side effects and a low chance of the hemorrhoid coming back.

Patients usually recover from surgery within a week.

Prevention

Here are some tips to prevent hemorrhoids:

  • Eat a diet that’s high in fiber. This means eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and eating less meat and fatty foods.
  • In addition to fiber, it’s important to drink more water to supplement your diet.
  • Avoid straining when passing stool.
  • Try to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Engage in daily exercise, at least 30 minutes each day.
  • If you notice any symptoms, talk to your doctor about it as soon as possible.

By following these tips, you can reduce the risk of hemorrhoids.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Hemorrhoids – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hemorrhoids/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20360280, Accessed December 16, 2020

Hemorrhoids – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hemorrhoids/symptoms-causes/syc-20360268#:~:text=Hemorrhoids%20are%20swollen%20veins%20in,rectum%2C%20similar%20to%20varicose%20veins., Accessed December 16, 2020

Colon and Rectal Conditions | Hemorrhoids | SCL Health, https://www.sclhealth.org/services/gastro/colon-and-rectal-conditions/hemorrhoids/, Accessed December 16, 2020

Hemorrhoids and what to do about them – Harvard Health, https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/hemorrhoids_and_what_to_do_about_them, Accessed December 16, 2020

Hemorrhoids: Diagnosis and Treatment Options – American Family Physician, https://www.aafp.org/afp/2018/0201/p172.html, Accessed December 16, 2020

Treatment of Hemorrhoids | NIDDK, https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/hemorrhoids/treatment, Accessed December 16, 2020

Hemorrhoids – American Family Physician, https://www.aafp.org/afp/2011/0715/p204.html, Accessed December 16, 2020

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Written by Jan Alwyn Batara Updated Jun 02
Medically reviewed by Mia Dacumos, M.D.
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