Hemorrhoids are one of the most common causes of rectal bleeding. But that doesn’t make the sight of blood sprayed in the toilet after every bowel moment any less scary.
Hemorrhoids, more commonly known as Piles, are swollen veins in the lower part of the rectum and anus. They become irritated and may bleed when these veins stretch. In rare cases, they may require surgical intervention for relief, but usually, the symptoms are manageable through home remedies, over-the-counter (OTC) treatments, and doctor-prescribed medicines.
Although unpleasant and painful, hemorrhoids are easily treatable and preventable. It is suggested to treat them as soon as they appear because they get worse if left untreated. Hemorrhoids may affect about 1 in 20 Americans, regardless of their gender. About half of all people will have symptomatic hemorrhoids by age 50.
Who Can Get Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids can be caused by a variety of reasons. You’re at risk if:
- You’re overweight
- You’re pregnant
- You regularly consume low-fiber diet
- You have chronic constipation or diarrhea
- You sit on the toilet for long
- You strain a lot during bowel movements
- You don’t exercise much
- You lift heavy weights
Types of Hemorrhoids
Based on their anatomical location, hemorrhoids can be divided into the following types:
1. Internal Hemorrhoids
Small swollen lumps inside the rectum are called internal hemorrhoids. They are usually painless but can rupture and bleed during bowel movements. The swelling may become so intense that they prolapse, which means that they protrude from the anus and have to be pushed back in. If left untreated, internal hemorrhoids can weaken the sphincter muscle, which lets the mucus and feces to leak out onto the skin, causing itching and burning.
2. External Hemorrhoids
External hemorrhoids are present outside the sphincter or around the anus. This area is prone to pain due to the presence of more pain receptors.
3. Thrombosed Hemorrhoids
If a blood clot develops inside an internal or external hemorrhoidal vein, the blood flow gets hampered, eventually rupturing the hemorrhoid. Thrombosed Hemorrhoids are not dangerous but cause a lot of pain, discomfort, and rectal bleeding.
Common Signs of Hemorrhoids
The following symptoms, if present, indicate the presence of hemorrhoids:
- Blood in feces, on toilet paper after wiping, or sprayed in the toilet during or after bowel movements.
- Itching, discomfort, and/or throbbing pain around the anal area
- Fecal soiling – a feeling of having an incomplete bowel movement
- Lump(s) around the anus
- Sudden pain during and after changing positions, like sitting after standing, sitting up after laying down
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 following:
- Over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams
- Numbing gels
- Witch Hazel
- Over-the-counter pain relievers
3. Surgical Treatment
In some cases, patients have to opt for Hemorrhoidectomy to relieve the hemorrhoidal symptoms. This surgery comes with huge risks.
Treating Internal Hemorrhoids through Fiber Supplements
What are Fiber Supplements?
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is naturally present in many foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. It is essential for healthy digestion and helps treat and prevent various diseases.
Fiber supplements, therefore, help fulfil the daily fiber requirements for people who find it difficult to eat more fiber. This way, they can continue to enjoy the health benefits associated with fiber, including healthy functioning of the digestive system and reduced blood sugar and cholesterol levels. They also help with weight loss.
Fiber supplements are available as over-the-counter medicines in multiple formulations, including capsules and powders. They contain one of three types of fiber—psyllium, methylcellulose, or polycarbophil.
Please note that fiber supplements should not be substituted for a balanced diet.
How Fiber Supplements Affect Internal Bleeding Hemorrhoids
In constipated patients, fiber supplements soften and add bulk to stool, making it easy to pass. This, in turn, prevents the formation of hemorrhoids.
A study was conducted on 50 patients to research the effects of fiber supplements on internal bleeding hemorrhoids. As per the results, adequate fiber supplements can improve internal bleeding hemorrhoids and prevent surgery in most patients with advanced hemorrhoids.
The fiber you eat absorbs water and makes the stools bulkier so they can move faster and are easier to pass through the digestive tract.
According to Michael Dann, MD, a board-certified gastroenterologist at Manhattan Gastroenterology, "If you’re trying to make dough, everyone knows that if you use too much water and not enough flour your dough will be runny. If you use too much flour and not enough water your dough will be dry and hard. It’s the same concept for healthy having bowel movements." Not enough fiber, and you may experience diarrhea.
Side Effects of Fiber Supplements
Fiber supplements are generally regarded as safe, but some of them can cause minor side effects, such as stomach bloating or gas.
Fiber supplements are not harmful, but it is better to get your daily fiber from natural sources to take complete advantage of the health benefits provided by dietary fiber.
Fiber supplements can improve internal bleeding hemorrhoids, but the results can take some time to show, the length of which varies from person to person.
Increasing the dietary intake of fiber is considered safe for most people. However, if you’re experiencing internal bleeding hemorrhoids, you should consult your doctor before adding fiber supplements to your diet. If the bleeding or pain worsens, you should not wait and immediately visit your healthcare provider for advice and treatment.