More than an embarrassing and delicate subject, hemorrhoids can be extremely painful and debilitating for many people. It seems that once a person suffers from hemorrhoids, the easier it is for them to show up again as uninvited guests. Let’s see what we can find out about fighting off hemorrhoids symptoms, or even better, preventing hemorrhoids altogether.
What Are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids, or piles as they are sometimes called, are swollen inflamed veins found in the rectal and anal areas of the body. Some people have them and may not even know it. Others experience quite intense and/or chronic pain and bleeding from hemorrhoids. Certain activities such as straining while having a bowel movement may bring on hemorrhoids symptoms.
It’s not something most of us go around talking about, but hemorrhoids symptoms are actually quite common. Estimates indicate approximately 75% of Americans will suffer from hemorrhoids symptoms at some point in their lives. Hemorrhoids usually develop between the ages of 45–65 with development of hemorrhoids before the age of 20 being unusual. Many women experience hemorrhoids during pregnancy, but overall more males than females suffer from hemorrhoids. There are numerous treatments for hemorrhoids, but the good news is that most of the time hemorrhoid prevention through lifestyle choices and natural therapies are effective.
According to the Mayo Clinic, hemorrhoids can occur due to a variety of factors including: pregnancy, straining during bowel movements, sitting for a long period of time, obesity, chronic diarrhea, persistent constipation, and a low fiber diet.
The signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids are generally dependent on their type and location. The two major types of hemorrhoids are internal and external.
Internal hemorrhoids are most often not visible or felt by the patient. They are found below the lining of the anus or rectum. These tissues are very delicate, and can be easily injured while defecating. How do you know if you have internal hemorrhoids? A good indicator of internal hemorrhoids is blood, usually bright red, found on your toilet tissue or in the water of the toilet bowl. The membranes of the anal area do not have pain receptors, thus internal hemorrhoids are not usually painful. Internal hemorrhoids may protrude outside the anus. Referred to as prolapsed hemorrhoids, they can cause pain and irritation. Sometimes they remain outside the anus, or they may move back and forth.
External hemorrhoids are the most concerning. They are usually very painful and itchy, and are prone to bleed more than the internal variety. They are easily aggravated by defecation and the wiping action of cleaning the rectal area. Sometimes blood may pool and be trapped in an external hemorrhoid, forming a blood clot (thrombus). While these clots can be extremely painful, they are not associated with the danger of an embolism, as are some blood clots. The presence of blood on your underclothing may be an indicator of a thrombus.
What Are the Causes of Hemorrhoids?
The precise reason that hemorrhoids form is not certain. It is known that our upright posture exposes the veins of the anal and rectal areas to a large amount of pressure. There is also evidence that heredity plays a role in the development of hemorrhoids. If you have a family history of hemorrhoids, you are at a greater risk of experiencing them yourself. This is likely related to the lifestyle culture of your relatives and passed on to you (such as diet and exercise levels) rather than genes. It used to be thought that people who engage in a lot of heavy lifting and/or spend a lot of time sitting for prolonged periods of time, such as in a work environment, were more prone to develop hemorrhoids. However, while these activities may irritate and compound issues with existing hemorrhoids, they are no longer considered to be the more prominent causes.
Factors that Cause and Worsen Existing Hemorrhoids Conditions
Hemorrhoids and Obesity
Carrying around extra weight is a contributing factor to a multitude of disease conditions, and hemorrhoids are definitely one of them.
Hemorrhoids and Aging
As we age the tendency for hemorrhoids increases for many people. This may be due in part to a less active lifestyle.
Hemorrhoids and Chronic Diarrhea or Constipation
The diarrhea acts as an irritant to the anal area, and constipation causes forced bowel movements, which most likely results in more hemorrhoids than any other single factor.
Hemorrhoids in Pregnancy
Many pregnant women develop hemorrhoids; however they usually dissipate after childbirth.
Hemorrhoids and Enemas and Laxatives
While enemas and laxatives for hemorrhoids may be appropriate and needed from time to time, excessive use of these can increase risk for hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids and Sitting Too Long on the Toilet
Sitting on the toilet for prolonged periods of time can increase risk for hemorrhoids in some people. Hint: Don’t use your bathroom time to read, or at least not for longer than normal times. Locate your “private office” elsewhere.
How Are Hemorrhoids Diagnosed?
If you know or suspect you have hemorrhoids, an exam by a trusted and knowledgeable health practitioner is the first step you want to consider. A visual inspection of the anus may reveal external or protracted hemorrhoids. A more thorough internal examination, via a gloved and lubricated finger in the anus, will often detect internal hemorrhoids, but not always. Sometimes the tissues may be too soft to be felt. There are more definitive forms of internal exams, but be sure they are necessary, and make sure that your healthcare practitioner has the experience and skill level to safely administer them. Internal organs can be damaged by faulty exams. An anascope is an instrument inserted into the anus, and allows the doctor to see into the anal canal. More comprehensive internal exams can be accomplished through the use of a sigmoidoscope to view the lower colon, or a colonoscope for viewing the entire colon. These exams may reveal other reasons for rectal bleeding that can be much more serious than hemorrhoids. These may include colorectal or anal cancers. Anytime you have rectal or anal bleeding, do not take anything for granted. If there is something serious going on, you want to identify it as early in the disease process as possible.
How Can I Prevent Hemorrhoids?
As with any health care issue, the best course of action is to prevent disease, not treat it after the fact. Hemorrhoids are very preventable through proactive diet and lifestyle choices. Here are some recommendations:
Eat a Healthy Diet
A high-fiber diet can help in preventing hemorrhoids and many other intestinal tract disorders. Lots of raw or lightly steamed organic vegetables, organic fruits, and whole grains will soften and increase the bulk of your stools. This will make for very cooperative bowel movements that will not subject your body to straining. Eat lots of blackberries, blueberries, and cherries. These fruits are high in flavonoids, substances that naturally strengthen your vascular system. It is also a good idea to go to the bathroom as soon as possible after you have the urge to do so. This allows you to defecate when the stool is moister, not dried out which leads to constipation and straining. In other words, never put stifle the need to have a bowel movement.
Drinking large amounts of purified water every day will do wonders for your body in many ways. It’s a great habit to keep your intestinal tract healthy, and drinking ample water will go a long ways toward keeping you regular. Drinking one-half of your body weight in ounces of purified water every day can help diminish hemorrhoids symptoms.
An active lifestyle will relieve and reduce pressure on your veins and will reduce your risk for hemorrhoids. While regular cardiovascular activity is excellent for your health in many ways, even getting up periodically and walking around will help with hemorrhoids symptoms. Long periods of uninterrupted sitting or standing is a factor for increased hemorrhoid risks. Physical activity also helps to take off or keep off excess body weight. Obesity only makes hemorrhoids more likely and can worsen existing ones as well.
What Are Some Home Remedies for Hemorrhoids?
In the conventional medicine world, there are a multitude of treatments available for hemorrhoids symptoms. Many of them, not surprisingly, involve drugs and surgery. There are also many effective natural remedies for hemorrhoids that avoid the risks of more invasive procedures. The one medical treatment for hemorrhoids that I would recommend is called rubber band litigation. You may want to consider this option as an affordable, safe procedure for the treatment of internal hemorrhoids. An applicator places one or more small rubber bands at the base of the hemorrhoids. The idea is to cut off the blood supply to them so they will die and fall off. This usually occurs in a week to ten days or less. Once the hemorrhoid has fallen off, a sore remains that heals up in short time. The procedure generally is painless and does not require any anesthetic, as the tissues in this area have minimal pain receptors. Rubber band litigation is a very effective and safe tool for eliminating existing hemorrhoids.
As far as home remedies for hemorrhoids, there are many practical steps you can take to relieve hemorrhoids symptoms.
Witch hazel which is the active ingredient in many over-the-counter (OTC) hemorrhoid remedies, is an effective treatment to relieve hemorrhoid pain and itching due to its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and astringent qualities. It may be applied with pads, or even purchased already imbedded in pads. Be careful when choosing hemorrhoid creams and hemorrhoid OTC remedies, as many of them contain hydrocortisone. Reading the product ingredient label is important.
Ozonated Olive Oil
A very effective natural remedy to promote healing is to use ozonated olive oil. Studies indicate that it keeps the area cleansed and delivers oxygen directly to the wound to stimulate healing. A simple application of ozonated olive oil, like OxyBalm, twice daily can enhance the normal healing process and reduce swelling and discomfort usually associated with hemorrhoids symptoms as well as anal fissures.
Warm Baths or Sitz Baths
Warm baths or sitz baths can be very soothing and healing for hemorrhoids. Soak several times a day if possible. Many people recommend using Epsom salt in a warm bath to be helpful. Sitz baths that fit over the toilet can be found in medical supply stores.
Keeping your anal/rectal area clean is very important to healing. Warm water is best, as soap may be irritating. Dry gently so as to minimize aggravation to the area. Some folks find a hair dryer to be useful.
You may want to consider using a moist towlette (alcohol-free and chemical-free) instead of toilet paper while hemorrhoids are flaring up. If you do use toilet paper, find a soft one that contains no perfume and leaves no paper residue.
Cold Compresses or Ice Packs
Cold compresses or ice packs can be applied to the region can help to relieve pain and inflammation. Be sure to wrap them in cloth to prevent skin burns, and do not leave them on for more than 20 minutes at a time.
Using herbal remedies for hemorrhoids is almost as old as time itself. I suggest and use with clients Hemetrex. Hemetrex is an herbal supplement that is effective for hemorrhoids symptoms. A combination of 9 potent herbs and shilajit, Hemetrex has been specifically formulated to promote circulatory health by supporting vein durability, wall strength, and elasticity. Hematrex is a definite safe and effective go-to for healthy vein support.
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