Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are one of the most common ailments experienced by patients. More than half of the population has them and they usually develop sometime after the age of 30. Many treatment methods available today are safe and make hemorrhoid removal less painful than it used to be, so there is no reason to suffer.

What are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are enlarged blood vessels in and around the anus and lower rectum. They are very similar to varicose veins. There are both internal and external hemorrhoids. External hemorrhoids develop near the anus and are covered by sensitive skin. They are usually painless, but if a blood clot develops, can grow into a hard, painful lump. They will bleed if ruptured.

Internal hemorrhoids develop beneath the lining of the anus. They are painless, but they bleed and protrude during bowel movements. If an internal hemorrhoid becomes prolapsed, it can not be pushed back inside and it becomes painful.

Causes of Hemorrhoids

There is no definitive cause of hemorrhoids, but it is believed that the upright posture of humans puts them at an increased disadvantage because of the pressure it puts on rectal veins. Other possible causes include:
  • Age
  • Pregnancy
  • Heredity
  • Chronic constipation or diarrhea
  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Faulty bowel function
  • Spending long periods of time on the toilet

All of these things cause the tissue supporting the blood vessels to stretch and dilate, causing the walls to thin and bleed. Eventually, these weakened blood vessels protrude.

Symptoms of Hemorrhoids

  • Bleeding during bowel movements
  • Protrusion during bowel movements
  • Itching in the anus
  • Pain
  • Sensitive lumps

Treatment of Hemorrhoids

Mild hemorrhoids can be treated by improving bowel health. This includes eating plenty of fiber and drinking adequate fluids. The less you strain during bowel movements, the fewer problems you will have with hemorrhoids. A sitz bath for ten minutes is also soothing.

In cases of severe or persistent hemorrhoids, your doctor might recommend surgery. This is especially true when a blood clot develops. Surgery is performed with a small incision. Local anesthesia is used. This procedure is performed on an outpatient basis.

Another option for treatment is hemorrhoid stapling. This uses a special device to internally staple and excise the excess tissue. This leads to shrinkage, but does not remove the hemorrhoid. It is less painful than other options.

A hemorrhoidectomy is a surgical procedure used to remove hemorrhoids completely. It is necessary for clots that form in external hemorrhoids, when internal hemorrhoids bleed excessively and in cases when internal hemorrhoids cannot be treated or reduced. Sutures or staples are used during the surgery, which sometimes requires an overnight stay. Laser surgery is available, but offers no benefits over traditional methods, though it costs a great deal more.

Hemorrhoids do not lead to cancer, but many of the symptoms of the two are the same. This is why it is important to discuss any changes in bowel or digestive habits with your doctor. Over-the-counter remedies might not be helpful, especially if there is a more serious problem causing your symptoms.