Hemorrhoids are not only embarrassing to the patient, but they can be very painful. If some patients feel ashamed for their hemorrhoidal disease. This may be due to the location of the pathology.
Hemorrhoids correspond to inflammation and excessive dilation of hemorrhoidal veins.
Constipation, pregnancy and loss of tissue tone with age are the main causes. In pregnant women, hemorrhoid symptoms usually disappear after delivery.
What are the symptoms? How can we prevent them? How can we treat hemorrhoids? Here are our explanations.
What are hemorrhoids?
It is a condition where there are clusters of blood vessels in the anus and the lower rectum become swollen, which irritates when passing stool. The swollen veins generally have their walls stretched out and thin which causes them to become sensitive and prone to rupture with friction when stool is passed.
There are two categories of Hemorrhoids:
- Internal hemorrhoids that occur in the rectum.
- External hemorrhoids that occur in the anus.
It is common for people to experience this at some point in their lives, and most people experience it for a short while. Symptoms of enlarged hemorrhoids are:
- Discharge of mucus
- Burning sensation in the anus
- Intense pain
- The feeling that the bowel motion is not completely done
A few causes of hemorrhoids can be:
- Too much strain while passing a bowel movement.
- Long periods spent sitting, especially on the toilet.
- Diarrhea or constipation, especially chronic.
- If it runs in the family.
- Being obese.
- Anal sexual intercourse irritates the hemorrhoids.
- Heavy weight lifting, or excess strain caused by any exercise.
- Swollen uterus during pregnancy puts pressure on the veins.
While most cases of hemorrhoids solve with a little time and care there are a few complications that may occur that you should be aware of.
These are very rare cases and are as follows:
- Anemic condition: The frequent passing of blood may make you have a low blood count and feel tired or weak.
- Blood flow cut off to hemorrhoid: An enlarged hemorrhoid vessel may have its blood supply cut off which can cause a lot of pain and require surgical removal of hemorrhoid.
As we have seen above pregnancy may cause a lot of pressure on your veins and cause you to experience swollen hemorrhoids. There are a few methods to soothe and treat your hemorrhoid pain post-pregnancy:
1- Cleaning post bowel movements with a peri bottle that you may have gotten from the hospital.
2- Pre-moistened witch hazel wipes that are used in hemorrhoid treatment.
3- There are a few over-the-counter medications and ointments available that you could consult your doctor and use. Make sure you avoid aspirins or any other medication that can impact your baby negatively while you are breastfeeding.
4- Avoid using suppositories if you have tears in your rectal region or an episiotomy.
5- Using a sitz bath: You can sit in a sitz bath to soothe the pain and help treat the hemorrhoids. This can be a shallow bowl put over the toilet seat with the recommended substances dissolved in warm water, or even practiced in the bathtub. People generally use a sitz bath to keep their perineum region clean and some even practice it regularly. You can sit for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, and when you’re done you should get up and pat the area dry with a soft cotton towel.
Keep in mind not to rub or scrub the area as this will irritate the hemorrhoids. The only precaution generally recommended is to sanitize and thoroughly clean the bathtub or the utensil in which you do your sitz bath, as it could risk getting unhygienic especially if there is a surgical wound. If it makes the perineum region red or puffy, stop immediately and contact your doctor.
Home remedies for hemorrhoids:
1- Use an ice pack:
You may use an ice pack to soothe the inflamed hemorrhoids and relieve the pain.
2- Sitz bath or warm water bath:
As explored above, a sitz bath can help even when the hemorrhoids are not related to pregnancy.
3- Sit on a soft surface:
Sitting on a soft surface or a comfortable cushion is better than sitting on a hard surface, as it may irritate the hemorrhoids and cause the other nerves in the area to get inflamed as well.
4- Add fiber to your diet:
Eating fiber-rich foods such as leafy greens, salads, fruit, and vegetables will help increase your digestion and regulate your flow of excreta. This will eventually aid to reduce the pressure on your digestive system and your stool passing, thereby contributing to easing the hemorrhoids situation. Although, you must keep in mind that for some people this can cause bloating or gas, so keep yourself in check as to how much and which sources of fiber you consume as gas and bloating will have a negative effect.
This will stimulate and regulate your bowel movements, and cause the pressure build-up to reduce.
6- Go when you feel the urge:
You need to poop when you feel the urge. Whether you are working or in the middle of things, set aside the time, because when you control it, pressure builds up and this causes strain on the vessels. Not to mention, that when you do eventually go after delaying the urge you may have to strain more to get the bowels flowing and this is added unhealthy pressure on the hemorrhoids. This simple practice can alleviate so many of your troubles. Try and maintain a regular schedule, by setting a time of the day, preferably as soon as you wake, or post having your morning tea or coffee, and regulate it into a habit, thereby creating a schedule for your body clock and reducing the pressure.
7- Don’t sit too long:
While you must go when the urge strike, make it a point to not sit too long on the toilet. This sitting may put more pressure on the veins and cause them to get irritated, leading to inflammation and it will not do you any good as you wouldn’t be passing stool efficiently. This mostly happens either due to constipation, which you should treat through diet or laxatives and a consistent lifestyle, or because you may not be focused on what you’re doing due to performing another activity while sitting.
If you have your phone or any other device, a newspaper, book, or any other form of activity that attracts your attention while you are using the facilities, this will distract your mind’s attention from the task of excretion, and make you need more pressure or lead to some form of constipation. It is absolutely important that you not have any distractions, and focus on getting the job done when you need to go, and as sensible as this may sound this is the most overlooked aspect. You will find that if you make it a practice to only focus on passing your bowels when you are the process becomes smoother over time and your body becomes less strained and more efficient at doing so.
Invasive and non-invasive surgical procedures that exist:
- Rubber band litigation
- Doppler-Guided Artery Litigation
- Hemorrhoid stapling
Before considering any of these you must consult your doctor and be well informed.
For most people, the word hemorrhoid is a rarely discussed topic and may bring unsettling images to the mind. It can be seen that despite the stigma around it, it is a very common issue and most people go through it without even noticing it in their life. The takeaway is that we must open up our minds to the issue only to understand how to deal with it better and get to the root causes and prevent it. While it is common, it can cause immense discomfort and can ruin your productivity, and your mood. Also, the toll on your personal life could be significant if you are in constant pain and are confused by the false urge to use the toilet wherein you land up spending more time focusing on the bowel movement and lesser relaxing or focusing on more important things.
It could even have a toll on your relations and intimate life where you may be unable to devote a good amount of time and maybe in a bad mood. Hence, despite the common nature of hemorrhoids, we must constantly monitor the situation, especially with the cases that are not going away naturally, and keep it in check. Not to mention that if you live too carelessly, an otherwise non-alarming situation can turn into something worse.
The key to maintaining your hemorrhoid health is ensuring that your stool is soft and thereby passes through easily. This can be done as discussed above, by incorporating a healthy diet with lots of fiber and not over-eating or under-eating. Obesity and the level of activity in your lifestyle need to be controlled. Also, the simple fact of not avoiding nature’s call for any reason can go a long way.
It is said that Napoleon lost the battle of Waterloo due to hemorrhoids. Whether or not the information is fully correct you can see how important a small irritation can be in your life. Eat healthily and live a reasonably active lifestyle to prevent hemorrhoids, and generally reduce most health risks to you. You will be much happier, and you will be in the right frame of mind to carry out your professional tasks better and lead your personal life more content.