Hemorrhoids usually occur due to higher pressue which can occur during a pregnancy, being obese, or overexerting during bowel movements. By midlife, hemorrhoids are more common. By around age 50, over 50% of the population experiences symptoms of this condition that include: rectal pain, bleeding, itching, and prolapse. Although, hemorrhoids are not life-threatening, it can reoccur if an episode has occured, and be very discomforting to the patient. The interesting fact is that everyone has hemorrhoids. What makes it the painful condition it is acknowledged as, is when the veins that cause the actual condition of a hemorrhoid becomes swollen in the rectum and/or anus. There are two types of hemorrhoids:
- Internal Hemorrhoids: Occur in the lower rectum; these are normally painless even if bleeding is present; a prolapse can occur which causes it to extend past the anus affecting the bowel movement
- External Hemorrhoids: Develop under the skin around the anus; tend to be more discomforting due to irritation/erosion of overlying skin; rarely..a blood clot may develop inside this hemorrhoid leading to severe pain
If a hemorrhoid protrudes, small portions of mucus and/or stool particles can pool causing an irritation known as pruritus ani. Most commonly, it develops whenever excessive straining occurs during a bowel movement, or staying seated on a toilet for too long. Doing either of these can cause the blood flow to be restrained causing the blood vessel in the area to enlarge. There are several ways this medical condition can be diagnosed. One method is through a basic history and physical exam. External hemorrhoids are usually present, when a blood clot has formed. Your doctor can also perform a digital rectal exam to check for blood in the stool. Another method involves an examination of the anal canal using a anoscope, which is a plastic tube inserted into the rectum with illumination.
Relief for most symptoms of most hemorrhoids involve the application of various home remedies. Some suggestions include:
- Increasing Fiber intake; it can soften stools, making it simpler for them to pass. That as a result, minimizes the pressure that in placed against a hemorrhoid.
- Exercise; moderate aerobic exercise for 20-30 mins per day stimulates healthy bowel function
- Sitz bath; a warm bath for buttocks/hips to relieve itching, irritation, and spasms of the sphincter. Industry experts recommend a 20 min bath with a few inches of warm water to aid in bowel movement
- Topical creams; Over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams containing a local anesthetic can temporarily alleviate the discomfort.
- Treating it if a clot forms; if this occurs, the pain can be severe. If it happens to be tolerable and present for more than two days, continue with at home treatments. Otherwise, it can be surgically removed by withdrawing the clot from the enlarged vein by a surgeon.
As always, we hope that our communities here in Central Florida remain informed and educated with the latest information in Digestive health.