Hemorrhoids are not something to worry about since they can go away on their own or be easily treated with over-the-counter medication. Nonetheless, lack of treatment in prolonged cases can result in increased pain and risk of developing other more serious conditions.
In this post, we share key information about professional options for hemorrhoids and what you can do to put an end to the pain and discomfort.
Hemorrhoids are a common issue people have, which are enlarged and swollen veins that form outside and inside the rectum and anus. They can cause pain and rectal bleeding. Everyone is born with hemorrhoids but they don’t bother until they become swollen, causing irritating symptoms. They affect people of all ages but the risk of developing hemorrhoids increases as you grow older.
Some groups of people may be more prone to developing hemorrhoids, including those who are pregnant, overweight or have obesity, spend a lot of time sitting on the toilet, regularly lift heavy objects, have diarrhea or eat a low-fiber diet.
There are three different types of hemorrhoids that depend on where the swollen vein develops. The first one is called external hemorrhoids, and the veins form below the skin around the anus, causing itchiness and pain. They can sometimes bleed and result in increased swelling and pain. The second type is called internal hemorrhoids, due to the veins forming inside the rectum (part of the digestive system that connects the large intestine, the colon, to the anus). It can cause bleeding but is not painful.
The last one is called prolapsed hemorrhoids, which can cause both internal and external veins to stretch and bulge outside the anus. These can also bleed and cause pain occasionally (1).
Hemorrhoids forming internally don’t cause pain in general, unless they prolapse. Many people who have internal hemorrhoids don’t realize they have them because they don’t feel discomfort or symptoms.
For internal hemorrhoids, signs include blood in the tool, on toilet paper, or in the toilet bowl, which signifies rectal bleeding. As for external hemorrhoids, symptoms include rectal bleeding, pain in the anus when you sit, itchy anus, and hard lumps near the anus that may feel tender or sore.
You can treat hemorrhoids at home by purchasing over-the-counter medications to alleviate the pain and itchiness, which can last a little over a week. Some tips to prevent hemorrhoids are drinking more water, increasing your fiber intake, and using special toilet paper or wet wipes to hydrate the area and keep it clean.
If you’ve tried to get rid of hemorrhoids at home with medication or notice symptoms, it is time to visit your doctor.
To be more specific, if hemorrhoids are causing a lot of pain and discomfort, you experience rectal bleeding or when you go to the bathroom observe a marron or tarry color (a sign of bleeding), please schedule an appointment with a doctor or attend a hospital for a faster diagnosis. If you suffer from huge rectal bleeding and faintness or dizziness, seek emergency help as soon as possible.
Hemorrhoids are not a life-or-death issue, but you shouldn’t let them slip by or avoid getting them checked. You can be free of pain by visiting your doctor and following easy instructions like drinking plenty of fluids and eating more fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber.
As we stated above, most hemorrhoid cases can go away with at-home treatments, but for severe and prolapsed internal hemorrhoids, surgical treatments may be needed. So, how do doctors treat hemorrhoids?
There are various procedures doctors can perform in their office and in a hospital, which will vary depending on the type of hemorrhoid you have and the recommended course of action (2).
In-office treatments include methods like the following:
- Sclerotherapy. This procedure involves a doctor injecting a solution into an internal hemorrhoid, causing scar tissue to form. This interrupts the blood supply, resulting in the shrinking of hemorrhoids.
- Electrocoagulation. Similar to the previous method, in this one a doctor will use a special tool that sends electrical currents to internal hemorrhoids, causing scar tissue to form and following the same steps and the technique just explained above.
- Rubber band ligation. This is one of the most common courses of actions doctors decide to go to and involves a health care professional placing a special rubber band around the base of the hemorrhoid, stopping the blood supply and causing the hemorrhoid to shrink.
- Infrared photocoagulation. Using a tool that administers infrared light to internal hemorrhoids, doctors can cause scar tissue to form, blocking the blood supply and resulting in the shrinkage of hemorrhoids.
In some cases, more serious procedures are needed that are usually performed in hospitals or specialized centers. These include:
- Hemorrhoid stapling. A doctor, most frequently a surgeon, may draw a prolapsing internal hemorrhoid back into the anus and remove internal hemorrhoid tissue using a particular stapling tool.
- Hemorrhoidectomy. To remove massive external hemorrhoids and prolapsing internal hemorrhoids that do not respond to previous therapies, a surgeon may perform a hemorrhoidectomy. Your physician will administer anesthesia for this procedure too.
Hemorrhoids are not something to be afraid of, thus they can go away on their own, with over-the-counter medications or a quick procedure done by a doctor. But leaving them untreated for a long period can compromise your health and develop into a serious issue that might require a different kind of treatment.
The number one risk of not treating hemorrhoids is excessive bleeding, which consequently causes blood clots, resulting in a thrombosed hemorrhoid. These are external hemorrhoids that have a blood clot inside them; it is painful and the area can look blue or purple and be increasingly swollen.
Thrombosed hemorrhoids can also cause skin tags, which happens when the thrombosed hemorrhoid goes away and loose skin appears. It causes discomfort because of the action of wiping the area and daily bowel movements can cause irritation, resulting in more pain.
Serious bleeding can cause anemia, because your red blood cell count dropping, therefore the minute you notice bleeding from your anus, attend a medical care center as soon as possible. Similar to this, strangulated hemorrhoids can develop if you don’t treat the issue accordingly. These are prolapsed hemorrhoids that can cause the loss of blood supply because of muscle pressure, causing pain and risking tissue death in the area where they’re located.
The best recommendation for preventing hemorrhoids is to keep your stools soft so they can pass easily and without having to add a lot of pressure. Apart from this, there are a few things to have in mind to stay healthy and away from the scalpel as possible.
First, you must eat foods high in fiber to soften the stool and avoid the straining that causes hemorrhoids. These are vegetables, whole grains, and fruits, but make sure to add them slowly to your dietary intake to avoid gas problems, indigestion, and bloating. If you struggle with getting the recommended fiber intake daily, talk with your doctor about potentially getting fiber supplements.
Secondly, drinking plenty of fluids will help you go to the bathroom more frequently, and keep your stool soft. Doctors recommend sticking to water, if possible, and drinking about 6-8 glasses daily.
In third place, as soon as you have the urge to go to the bathroom, go. If you wait for the sensation to go away it can cause your stool to dry out, resulting in a hard time trying to pass it. This doesn’t mean spending long periods sitting in the toilet, thus it can cause incremental pressure on the veins of your anus, complicating things more.
Experts recommend staying active and engaging in some form of physical activity at least three times a week to prevent constipation and reduce vein pressure. Further, it can help with weight loss which might contribute to developing hemorrhoids.
In this article, we gathered quality information for those searching for what to do with hemorrhoids. To sum up, they are not dangerous and most of the time can go away on their own. If you want to ease the pain and discomfort, consider over-the-counter medications and schedule an appointment with your doctor if you notice extreme pain or bleeding.
Not treating hemorrhoids can result in an issue, which can compromise your health and may require a surgical solution. Not to mention that it is very painful and limits your daily activities and puts a stop to your life.
If you notice any symptoms mentioned above, we encourage you to visit a health care center to get a diagnosis and allow a doctor to recommend the best course of action. However, if you’re experiencing bleeding accompanied by dizziness or fainting, you should seek emergency help immediately.