Hemorrhoids are veins around the anus or lower rectum that have become inflamed and swollen. They’re also called piles and can occur either inside the anus (internal hemorrhoids) or under the surrounding skin (external hemorrhoids). The most common cause of hemorrhoids is frequently straining to move one’s bowels over a sustained period of time.
Many women will experience hemorrhoids during pregnancy, and for most, the problem goes away after the baby is born.
The most commonly observed sign of internal hemorrhoids is brightly colored blood that shows up in the toilet bowl or on toilet paper after having a bowel movement. However, since internal hemorrhoids are located in an area without nerve fibers that can sense pain, they normally don’t cause much discomfort. External hemorrhoids, on the other hand, are typically painful. Both types of hemorrhoids can bleed when they are irritated.
Since hemorrhoid symptoms can feel similar to symptoms of many other health problems, such as abscesses or fissures, it's important for a doctor to perform an examination whenever rectal bleeding occurs. A doctor may use a hollow tube called an anoscope to adequately see internal hemorrhoids or may perform a visual or digital examination to check for abnormalities.
Since most cases of hemorrhoids are not dangerous, much of their treatment is focused on relieving pain, especially for external hemorrhoids. Applying a hemorrhoidal cream or witch hazel pads as well as soaking in warm water can help alleviate symptoms associated with external hemorrhoids. Applying typical prevention techniques, such as eating more fiber, can also help ease hemorrhoid-related discomfort.
More natural treatment methods include the use of ginkgo, chamomile, psyllium or rutin as well as hydrotherapy; some of these approaches lack a foundation of scientific evidence as to their effectiveness.
In more severe cases of internal hemorrhoids, a variety of methods such as infrared coagulation, sclerotherapy, rubber band ligation or even a hemorrhoidectomy may be used.
Drinking enough water; consuming more fiber-rich foods such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits; exercising regularly; and avoiding over-straining while having a bowel movement can all help in preventing hemorrhoids.
"It is rare to find health professionals who are so willing to educate the patient on what they need to know."