Hemorrhoids refer to the distended or swollen veins in the rectum or around the anus. They are often taken as a bathroom joke or taboo subject, but they are no laughing matter: they can cause extreme pain, as in the case of strangulated hemorrhoids, and significant quality-of-life issues.
Learning more about hemorrhoids, particularly their causes, symptoms, and treatments, is an important step toward knowing how to prevent them as well as what you can do if yours don’t respond to basic remedies.
What Causes Hemorrhoids?
Everyone has pillow-like clusters or piles of veins beneath the mucous membranes that line the lowest part of their rectum and anus. It’s when there is increased pressure in the rectum that these veins, stretch, swell or bulge, and cause problems.
The increased pressure in the rectum can be due to any of the following conditions or circumstances:
- Having a low-fiber diet
- Lifting heavy objects and not practicing proper lifting techniques
- Spending a long time sitting on the toilet
- Straining during bowel movements
What Are the Symptoms of Hemorrhoids?
Aside from pain, there are a few symptoms associated with hemorrhoids, and they can vary depending on the severity of the condition. These include the following:
- Blood on your toilet paper or on your poop itself
- Itchiness around your anus
- Bulging tissue outside your anal opening (prolapse)
- Urge to move your bowels even if you just finished doing it
How Are Hemorrhoids Treated?
Over-the-counter medications, such as creams, ointments, and suppositories, are commonly used for addressing hemorrhoids. Preparation H, a rectal medication, has been shown to effectively relieve pain, swelling, and itching.
Switching to a high-fiber diet also helps resolve hemorrhoids and prevents the veins from becoming distended again. Additionally, avoiding straining during bowel movements, and taking deep breaths whenever you try to pass stool can help you prevent the buildup of pressure in your anus.
If your symptoms don’t respond to any of the conservative measures mentioned above, your gastroenterologist (GI doctor) may recommend removing your hemorrhoids using minimally invasive techniques (e.g., hemorrhoid banding) or, very rarely, surgery, especially if there is a possible risk for complications.
While hemorrhoids are rarely life-threatening, they can become prolapsed, strangulated, or form a blood clot, which can lead to infection and anemia. If the problem persists, it’s worth having it checked out by your GI doctor, especially since it can have similar symptoms to those of other serious medical conditions like colon cancer.
Hemorrhoids Treatment in California
Whether you are experiencing significant pain from hemorrhoids or the problem has become persistent, visit us here at inSite Digestive Health Care. Our board-certified gastroenterologists will carry out digital examination and/or visual inspection to rule out or confirm hemorrhoids. Once a diagnosis is confirmed, we will determine the suitable treatment option for you. We may also recommend colon cancer screening if need be.