Do you wince at the thought of sitting down? Does the idea of having a bowel movement fill you with a fear of unbearable pain? Do you experience extreme anal pain every time you stand for an extended period? Chances are you might be suffering from a disease called hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids are one of the most common causes of rectal bleeding. They may go away on their own within a week or may require treatment, depending upon the severity.
What are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids, more commonly known as Piles, result from constant intra-abdominal pressure on the rectal veins. In extreme cases, they may require surgical intervention for relief, but usually, the symptoms are manageable through over-the-counter (OTC) and doctor-prescribed medicines.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD), hemorrhoids affect about 1 in 20 Americans each year and are common in both men and women. About 50% of all adults older than 50 suffer from hemorrhoids.
Types of Hemorrhoids
Based on their presence, hemorrhoids are divided into three types.
1. Internal Hemorrhoids
Internal hemorrhoids are small swollen lumps located inside the rectum. Most often than not, their presence remains unknown till they rupture, causing hemorrhoidal bleeding. This bleeding may stop over time as the hemorrhoids clear up on their own.
The most severe type of internal hemorrhoids can cause prolapse, which means that it can require a surgical procedure for recovery. A prolapsed internal hemorrhoid is approximately an inch in width, has a rubber-like texture, and is soft to touch.
2. External Hemorrhoids
The hemorrhoids that appear on or around the anal area are called external hemorrhoids. Small-sized hemorrhoids may heal by themselves within a few days. Large ones take longer to heal, and their location makes sitting, standing, laying down, basically performing any activity extremely painful.
3. Thrombosed Hemorrhoids
When a blood clot forms inside a hemorrhoidal vein, it obstructs the blood flow, causing swelling of the anal veins. This swelling results in thrombosed hemorrhoids. They are not dangerous, but like the other 2 types, they can cause a lot of pain, discomfort, and rectal bleeding. Straining while you have a bowel movement, if you’re constipated, irregular bowel movements, pregnancy, and sitting for a long period of time can form thrombosed hemorrhoids.
How are Hemorrhoids Caused?
Poor food habits, sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise, and chronic constipation often lead to the development of hemorrhoids in the rectal area.
Common Symptoms of Hemorrhoids
Following are the most common symptoms experienced by people suffering from internal, external, and thrombosed hormones.
1) Symptoms of Internal Hemorrhoids
The following symptoms indicate the presence of internal hemorrhoids:
- Blood can be seen in feces, on toilet paper after wiping, etc.
- Itching around the anus
- Fecal soiling – a feeling of incomplete emptying of bowel after passing stool
- Lumps outside the anus
2) Symptoms of External Hemorrhoids
A person with external hemorrhoids may have the following symptoms:
- Lump(s) and itching around the anus
- Throbbing pain or discomfort around the anus
- Bleeding from the anus during and after a bowel movement
- Fecal soiling
- Difficulty cleaning the anus after bowel movement due to constant pain
3) Symptoms of Thrombosed Hemorrhoids
The following symptoms accompany thrombosed hemorrhoids:
- Sudden pain brought on by the change of position
Rare Symptoms Accompanying Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids are not a health risk and can be healed with the help of at-home treatments or topical medicines. In a few cases, if a hemorrhoid stays for long, severe bleeding can occur, which, if left untreated, can cause anemia.
In rare cases, infections may accompany external hemorrhoids. A person suffering will require anti-biotics for recovery.
When the clot in a thrombosed hemorrhoid dissolves, it may leave you with a little skin patch that tends to get irritated if touched. It is called a skin tag.
If the blood flow to a prolapsed hemorrhoid is blocked by a muscle, it then turns into a strangulated hemorrhoid. This is a painful condition and requires surgical treatment.
What to Do When Symptoms Occur or Get worse?
If you start to experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, start making noticeable changes to your diet. Increase your fluid intake, drink plenty of water, include as many fiber-rich foods in your diet as you can, avoid straining while passing the stool, and do not wipe the anal area after emptying your bowels. It’s also important to wear loose clothing.
If your symptoms worsen, you should not wait and immediately book a doctor’s appointment for advice and treatment.
Treatments for Hemorrhoids
1. At-Home Treatments
The pain and itching caused by hemorrhoids can be treated using a variety of home remedies. Some of them include:
- Sitz Baths
- Ice Packs
- Heat Packs
2. Medical Treatments
Medical treatments include the application of over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams or numbing gels for quick relief. When applied after soaking the symptomatic area in a sitz bath, witch hazel provides comfort from itching. Taking over-the-counter pain relievers also helps combat the pain accompanying hemorrhoids.
3. Surgical Treatment
To relieve the hemorrhoidal symptoms, your doctor can perform various procedures in their office. These involve using different techniques to create scar tissue in the hemorrhoids. This tissue cuts off the blood supply to shrink the hemorrhoids. You may require prescription medicines or surgery, depending upon the severity of your symptoms.
External thrombectomy may be needed if you’re suffering from a thrombosed hemorrhoid. It involves making a small incision in the clot and draining it. The procedure is done under local anesthesia to prevent pain.
How is life with hemorrhoids? How did you first get to know that the presence of hemorrhoids caused the pain you were in? Let us know about your journey by commenting down below.