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Hemorrhoids

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Normal bowel movements are vital to your everyday wellness. When you become constipated or suffer an illness that disrupts your bowel function, you could be at risk of developing hemorrhoids.

  • Hemorrhoids are veins that are located in and around the anus and rectum that have become swollen.
  • Their swelling can cause them to extend well below the anus and make having bowel movements difficult or impossible.

There are two types of hemorrhoids: internal and external. Internal hemorrhoids are located within the anus or rectum. External hemorrhoids are found around the outside of the anus.

Hemorrhoids occur in 50 percent of adults and are not life-threatening. Still, they cause symptoms that can be disruptive and embarrassing. These symptoms include:

  • Pain
  • Itching
  • Irritation
  • Difficulty sitting
  • Difficult bowel movements
  • Fecal leakage
  • Bloody stools

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Most cases of hemorrhoids go away on their own without any kind of treatment. However, you may benefit by knowing what causes them. The common factors that contribute to the formation of hemorrhoids include:

  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Chronic constipation
  • Prolonged sitting
  • Family history
  • Heavy lifting
  • Obesity
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of hydration
  • Pregnancy

While most incidences of hemorrhoids resolve themselves, others need specialized attention and possibly even medical intervention.

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Treatments for Hemorrhoids

It is vital that you treat your hemorrhoids sooner rather than later to prevent complications from them. When you first notice that they have developed, you could try to remedy them by sitting in a warm bath or by taking a sitz bath. If a bath does little to help, you may then try an over-the-counter ointment that is formulated to relieve symptoms like pain, irritation, itching, and swelling.

While you use the ointment, which can take several applications to start working, you should keep the area clean and use a soft, high-quality toilet tissue. Abrasive tissues can cause further damage like bleeding and infection.

You also may apply an ice pack and take an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever like Tylenol for any discomfort. If you develop bleeding that will not stop or you notice signs of infection like discharge of pus or fever, you should seek help from your nearest emergency room.

Potential for Surgery

Even the best of OTC and home remedies can be ineffective against particularly challenging cases of hemorrhoids. When they do not respond to these first line measures, they may need to be surgically removed.

Your surgeon can use laser or infrared light to create scar tissue and eliminate the hemorrhoids. Alternatively, he or she can cut off the blood flow to the hemorrhoids by constricting them with rubber bands.

Your doctor may also recommend an external thrombectomy, which involves surgically lancing and removing the hemorrhoid from the external anus. Finally, you could be a good candidate for sclerotherapy, which involves injecting saline solution into the swollen vein, causing it to collapse and disappear.

Prevention of Hemorrhoids

Preventing hemorrhoids from developing can be relatively simple and only requires that you make a few lifestyle changes. First, it is recommended that you maintain a healthy weight and get plenty of exercise each day. A healthy weight and exercise enhance the function of the colon and prevents problems like constipation.

You can also prevent constipation by drinking plenty of water and eating more fiber each day. Fibrous foods include vegetables and fruits, greens, and legumes like lima beans. You can also get fiber from whole wheat and whole grain breads and pastas.

Finally, you should avoid straining while having a bowel movement. Straining puts stress on the veins in that area. This in turn causes them to become swollen and distended past their normal positioning in the body.

Hemorrhoids can be painful and embarrassing. Fortunately, they can be treated and prevented with a few simple lifestyle alterations and by undergoing surgery if necessary.

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