Hemorrhoids affect as many as half of all adults before the age of 50 at some point in their lives. What is the best way to know if you are one of them?
Formed around the anus and lower rectum, hemorrhoids are lumps of connective tissue with swollen blood veins. When this vascular tissue gets enlarged, as with varicose veins, it can lead to various complications, including itching, pain, and bleeding. This condition is commonly referred to as hemorrhoids or piles by proctologists and colorectal surgeons.
If you experience these symptoms, you may be suffering from hemorrhoids.
Causes of Hemorrhoids
Everybody's body is covered with hemorrhoidal tissue composed of blood vessels, connective tissue, and a little amount of muscle. These "cushions" do not always swell or become swollen, but as we grow older, this condition becomes more common, resulting in what we refer to as hemorrhoids or piles. Below we have discussed some of the causes of hemorrhoids.
Pregnancy and Child Birth
Hemorrhoids are common throughout pregnancy and the postpartum period. Most of the time, hemorrhoids that develop during pregnancy disappear on their own shortly after childbirth. But this is not the case every time. After 6 months of giving birth, approximately 25% of women suffer from hemorrhoids.
This can occur due to increased pressure on rectal veins during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester. The growing uterus puts pressure on the pelvic and nearby vasculature, particularly near the anus and rectum. As pregnancy advances, the strain on the veins around the anus rises due to all of these factors. Furthermore, straining on the toilet due to constipation can cause or aggravate hemorrhoids.
In addition, the increased hormone progesterone in the body might contribute to the development of hemorrhoids because progesterone relaxes the walls of the veins, increasing the chances of swelling.
Constipation should be avoided at all costs to lower the risk of developing hemorrhoids. Consume enough fruits, veggies, and whole grains, and drink plenty of water. When you have a healthy gut, you are less likely to strain during a bowel movement. If you have stitches in the rectal area, make sure to discuss the aftercare with your healthcare expert before leaving the hospital. If you've had an episiotomy or a tear that stretches, avoid putting anything on the rectum until you get approval from your physician.
Lack of Fiber-Rich Diet
Inflammation and swelling of the veins surrounding the anus, which can also develop in the lower rectum, where waste accumulates before exiting as a stool, result in hemorrhoids.
Increasing your intake of high-fiber, low-fat, and whole foods can often assist in reducing or even preventing hemorrhoids from occurring in the first place. This is because fiber lowers the pH levels in the colon and increases stool weight, which in turn helps to minimize the amount of time it takes for food to pass through the digestive system. Moreover, increased water retention in the colon results in softer stools that are easier to pass.
Most people should take 14 grams (g) of fiber for every 1,000 calories they consume daily, according to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
It has been shown that eating foods high in fiber, such as pulses (chickpeas, beans, and lentils), whole fruits and vegetables, especially those with a high skin to flesh ratio and water content, as well as whole grains, help alleviate the symptoms of hemorrhoids and prevent them from reoccurring. The dietary fiber intake should be increased gradually to avoid the possibility of experiencing adverse effects such as diarrhea and constipation. Consult with a doctor for severe or extremely painful hemorrhoids and those that do not improve with dietary adjustments after a week or two.
When you look at the causes of hemorrhoids, you'll notice that genetics isn't typically included, even though hemorrhoids are a condition that can run in families.
Hemorrhoids are a normal part of the anatomy as long as they do not inflame. The strength of the muscles and cartilage in the affected area has a great deal to do with whether or not they will occur in the same place after the surgery.
Genetics can impact the strength and integrity of muscles and cartilage. A family history of hemorrhoids may indicate that the genes for weak connective tissue and colorectal muscles are passed down through the generations.
Genetically occurring hemorrhoids have no specific cure, but they can be quite painful and irritating, so head to your local pharmacy and pick up a topical cream or suppository that contains witch hazel or hydrocortisone plus lidocaine. Witch hazel's tannins and oils have an anti-inflammatory action on the skin that can help reduce inflammation and a minor vasoconstriction effect that can help shrink tissue and prevent bleeding. A warm bath with half a cup of Epsom salt is also a tried-and-tested home cure for alleviating inflamed anal tissue and reducing the symptoms of hemorrhoids.
Chronic Constipation or Diarrhea
One of the most prevalent causes of hemorrhoids is related to bathroom troubles. Constipation might cause you to sit on the toilet for extended periods. You may have to strain to pass stool. During bowel movements, straining might cause the veins in your anus and lower rectum to bulge. Hemorrhoids and piles are two terms used to describe these enlarged veins.
If you want to prevent hemorrhoids from developing or getting worse, you should treat chronic constipation as soon as possible. Don't strain during bowel movements, and exercise regularly. The following measures can be taken to ease hemorrhoids symptoms:
- Take an oral pain reliever
- Apply an over-the-counter cream or ointment
- Soak in a warm bath with Epsom salt several times a day
Hemorrhoids are a common condition, especially in older individuals. Small veins in and around the rectum and anus are responsible for returning deoxygenated blood to the heart. If the return blood flow is restricted, these tiny veins can get distended with blood and eventually become fat and lumpy due to the blockage. The most prevalent cause of hemorrhoids is the increased pressure in the lower rectum that occurs due to straining during bowel movements, chronic diarrhea or constipation, or during pregnancy due to the baby's weight.