Some tend to laugh at hemorrhoid commercials, but the truth of the matter is, hemorrhiods are no laughing matter. Hemorrhoids will make it difficult (and sometimes painful) for those affected to eliminate waste. When I was younger, one of my cousins had to undergo a full operation because of her hemorrhoids, and she was only 16 back then. We used to laugh at her when we were out playing while she needed sit over a literally “hot seat” for hours. Little did I know that I’d have the same problem, though it just came 15 years after. And I got surprised because most people think hemorrhoids are abnormal but they are actually present in everyone. It is only when the hemorrhoidal cushions enlarge that hemorrhoids can cause problems and be considered abnormal or a disease.
Hemorrhoids can be described as masses or clumps (“cushions”) of tissue within the anal canal that contain blood vessels, with the surrounding, supporting tissue being made up of muscle and elastic fibers. The anal canal is the last four centimeters through which stool passes as it goes from the rectum to the outside world. The anus is the opening of the anal canal to the outside world. Although hemorrhoids occur in everyone, they become large and cause problems in only about 4% of the general population, equally among men and women, and their prevalence peaks between 45 and 65 years of age.If the hemorrhoid originates at the top (rectal side) of the anal canal, it is referred to as an internal hemorrhoid. If it originates at the lower end of the anal canal near the anus, it is referred to as an external hemorrhoid.What causes enlarged hemorrhoids?
The exact cause is not known, but there are several theories such as inadequate intake of fiber, prolonged sitting on the toilet, and chronic straining during bowel movement (when constipated). It can occur in pregnancy, though the exact reason is not clear. Tumors in the pelvis also cause enlargement of hemorrhoids by pressing on veins draining upwards from the anal canal. Others theorize that it is the pulling force of stool, particularly hard stool, passing through the anal canal that drags the hemorrhoidal cushions downward. Another theory suggests that with age or an aggravating condition, the supporting tissue that is responsible for anchoring the hemorrhoids to the underlying muscle of the anal canal deteriorates. With time, the hemorrhoidal tissue loses its mooring and slides down into the anal canal.
What are the symptoms of enlarged hemorrhoids?
Watch out for:
- Itching or irritation in your anal region
- Pain, discomfort and swelling in the anal region
- A lump near your anus, which may be sensitive or painful
- Painless bleeding during bowel movements — you might notice small amounts of bright red blood on your toilet tissue or in the toilet bowl
- Leakage of feces
What home remedies can be done to ease the symptoms of enlarged hemorrhoids?
Sitting in a few inches of warm water three times a day for 15 to 20 minutes may help decrease the inflammation of the hemorrhoids. It is important to dry off the anal area completely after each sitz bath to minimize irritation of the skin surrounding the anus.
Increased fluid intake and dietary fiber will decrease the potential for constipation and lessen the pressure on the rectum and anus during a bowel movement, minimizing further swelling, discomfort, and bleeding. Dietary fiber supplements may also help bulk up the stools.
Stool softeners may help, but once hemorrhoids are present, liquid stools may cause inflammation and infection of the anus. A health care professional or pharmacist are good resources to discuss their use.
Also, individuals with hemorrhoids should not sit for long periods of time and may benefit from sitting on an air or rubber donut available at most local pharmacies. Exercise is helpful in relieving constipation and in decreasing pressure on the hemorrhoidal veins. Individuals should be encouraged to have a bowel movement as soon as possible after the urge arises, as stools can become constipated and may be strained once the urge passes.
Many creams, ointments, and suppositories are available for symptom relief and may be used for comfort. They do not “cure” hemorrhoids, though. Often they contain a numbing medication or a corticosteroid to decrease inflammation and swelling.
You can also use herbal treatments such the Aloe Vera plant, bitter gourd and green tea. Take some leaves of the Aloe Vera, crush them and extract the juice from the leaves. Apply this juice directly on the hemorrhoids and this will wonders in reducing the pain and itching sensation caused by the hemorrhoids.
As for bitter gourds, extract some juice from bitter gourd and drink it two times a day.The best time to drink this juice is early in the morning or before going to bed at night. Bitter gourd has the tendency to flush out all the toxic substances from the body and ensures smooth bowel movements. This in turn keeps away constipation which is in fact the major cause of person developing hemorrhoids.
Drinking two cups of green tea on a daily basis can really help a person to get rid of hemorrhoids effectively because green tea has anti-oxidizing properties and can enhance the process of digestion in the body. This in turn, enhances the bowel movements and provides relief from constipation.
When should you call the doctor?
If you experience bleeding from the rectum or anus, immeidately consult a doctor. Hemorrhoids are the most common reason to have blood in the stool, but bleeding from the rectum or anus should be discussed with your doctor. Other causes of rectal bleeding exist and can be serious like Inflammatory bowel disease and cancers of the colon. Blood in the stoll should never be ignored.
Hemorrhoids do not cause abdominal pain; should this be present with bleeding, medical care should be sought immediately.
Prolapsed hemorrhoids that cannot be pushed back through the anus require medical care.
Thrombosed external hemorrhoids may cause significant pain and medical care may be necessary to repair.