They’re painful, they’re embarrassing and millions of people around the world suffer with them in silence. But what exactly are hemorrhoids? Can they be prevented? And how do you get rid of them?
In the not so distant past, hemorrhoids used to be called “piles”, but this term has fallen out of favor. Hemorrhoids are distended veins in the anal canal (internal hemorrhoids) or at the opening of the anal canal (external hemorrhoids). Internal hemorrhoids are often less painful than external hemorrhoids, that is until they become so swollen that they prolapsed or fall out of the anal canal. External hemorrhoids are usually much more painful and irritating making even everyday activities such as sitting painful. Other common hemorrhoid symptoms include burning, itching, swelling and bleeding. While not usually a major health hazard, hemorrhoids can definitely be painful and irritating enough to start to impact day to day living. Plus, if left untreated they may get even worse, this is why early diagnosing and treatment is so essential.
The primary cause of hemorrhoids is excessive straining while using the bathroom. Other risk factors that put people at a greater risk of hemorrhoids are pregnancy, high blood pressure, obesity, anal sex, chronic diarrhea and anal surgery. For those who have hemorrhoids due to constipation and straining, they should focus on resolving the constipation first and in a lot of instances this will help reduce hemorrhoid swelling which in turn then reduces the symptoms. In fact, people with very minor hemorrhoids may be able to completely turn their condition around with a fiber rich diet alone.
Before embarking on any treatment program, consult with your healthcare professional first to verify that you in fact have hemorrhoids. Though it is likely that if you suffer from hemorrhoid symptoms you probably have them, there are other diseases which can present with similar symptoms, including cancer, anal fissures, abscesses, and fistulae. This is why self diagnosing is never a good idea, but this is especially true when it comes to issues of colon health.
There are many effective treatments available including, suppositories, warm salt water baths (sitz baths), steroid creams, readily available over the counter medications with high amounts of bismuth sulfate, astringents, and anti-inflammatory medications. These treatments usually handle the problem, but if these options do not alleviate the situation, surgery may become necessary.
The important thing to remember is that although hemorrhoids can never be fully cured, they can be reduced to the point that they no longer exhibit symptoms. There are a lot of excellent treatments available for hemorrhoids that provide much needed relief, but virtually nothing is as effective as a diet high in fiber. As with every other medical condition it is highly recommended that you meet with your medical professional for advice before starting any treatment option.