Hemorrhoids are an annoying and painful problem. But if you keep yourself aware of the symptoms of hemorrhoids, you can prevent this condition from getting worse.
But what are hemorrhoids, and what causes them to happen?
What Causes Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are technically what you call the veins found in the anus and lower rectum. This means that they are a normal part of our anatomy. What people commonly refer to as hemorrhoids or piles, is a condition wherein these veins get swollen, similar to how varicose veins occur.
As these veins swell, it can cause pain, as well as the other symptoms most commonly associated with hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids are a pretty common occurrence, and three out of four adults would have some form of it during their lifetime. There are a number of possible causes for hemorrhoids, but most of the time, the cause cannot be identified.
What Are the Symptoms of Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids can be internal or external, which means that the symptoms might be different depending on what condition a person has. External hemorrhoids mean that the swelling occurs under the skin around a person’s anus.
Internal hemorrhoids, on the other hand, are found inside the rectum. Compared to external hemorrhoids, the symptoms of internal hemorrhoids are usually less noticeable, but can still be painful and cause discomfort.
Additionally, you can have both internal and external hemorrhoids at the same time.
Here are some of the symptoms of hemorrhoids if they are external:
Itching around the anus
Due to the swelling of the veins caused by hemorrhoids, it can feel very uncomfortable, and itching in the area around the anus is one common symptom.
Pain or discomfort around the anus
This symptom is especially problematic for people who need to sit for long periods of time. This is most noticeable as the longer a person with hemorrhoids sits down, the more pressure they feel around the anus, and this can cause a lot of pain.
Swelling in the anus
Depending on how severe the hemorrhoid is, the swelling can vary in size. Of course, the more swollen the hemorrhoid is, the more painful it will be.
Pain when defecating
This symptom is most commonly felt by people who are constipated, or by those who need to strain when defecating. Passing larger stool can also cause pain for someone with hemorrhoids.
Bleeding around the anus
In some cases, passing hard stool can damage the surface of a hemorrhoid, causing bleeding. In the case of very swollen hemorrhoids, it can even pop and cause a lot of bleeding.
For internal hemorrhoids, here are some of the more common symptoms:
A hemorrhoid pushing out through the anus
If an internal hemorrhoid becomes too large or distended, it can actually be pushed out or prolapse out of the rectum. This can happen when passing a particularly hard stool, or by straining too hard when defecating. This can be extremely painful, and cause a lot of irritation.
Bleeding when defecating
Another symptom of an internal hemorrhoid is seeing fresh blood in your stool. If the blood is still red, it means that it did not come from your stomach or intestine, so it is probably from your rectum. Oddly enough, internal hemorrhoids are usually not painful, and they rarely cause discomfort.
How Are Hemorrhoids Diagnosed?
In terms of diagnosis, your doctor will first check your medical history and then perform a physical exam afterward. The physical exam includes a digital examination wherein your doctor inserts a lubricated and gloved finger in your anus to check for anything unusual, or if you feel any pain or discomfort. This helps check for internal hemorrhoids.
For external hemorrhoids, a visual inspection can be conducted to identify if you have any hemorrhoids.
How Are They Treated?
If your doctor confirms that you have hemorrhoids, then you will be given recommendations to treat your condition. Some over-the-counter creams are available for immediate relief, and your doctor will also recommend a change in your diet to prevent pain when passing stool.
If a blood clot is causing your hemorrhoid, it is possible that minor surgery or a hemorrhoidectomy might be required in order to remove the clot. This depends on how severe the pain is, and how recent the hemorrhoid is.
Hemorrhoids can also be stapled to keep them from moving. Much like a hemorrhoidectomy, this is a minor surgery and you should be out of the doctor’s office the same day.
Wrapping a band around the hemorrhoid is another way to treat it. Banding the hemorrhoid causes it to shrink, and creates scar tissue around the hemorrhoid as it heals, which holds it in place. After about six to eight sessions, the hemorrhoid should be gone. This method of treatment can sometimes cause discomfort, but it is very effective.
What Can You Do to Prevent Hemorrhoids?
In terms of prevention, there are a number of things that you can do in order to prevent hemorrhoids. Here are some of them:
- Eating different types of food that are rich in fiber to prevent constipation and hard stool.
- Drinking plenty of fluids.
- Avoid straining when you are using the toilet.
- Be sure to use the toilet as soon as you feel the urge.
- Losing weight can also help lower the risk of hemorrhoids.
- If you tend to sit for extended periods of time, consider taking a break every so often to ease the pressure off your bottom.
Hemorrhoids are a common condition, and you should not be too worried if it happens to you. It is also easily preventable so long as you eat a healthy diet and take care of your bottom.
Learn more about Digestive Health here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.