Hemorrhoids, also referred to as Piles, are swollen and enlarged blood vessels that can be sometimes found inside of the rectum or around the anus. Many sufferers have described them to be a grape-like sized lump that protrudes from the anus.
- 1 What Causes Hemorrhoids?
- 2 What are the Signs and Symptoms of Hemorrhoids?
- 3 Are Hemorrhoids Contagious?
- 4 Can Hemorrhoids Spread to Other Parts of the Body?
- 5 What Treatment Options are Available for Hemorrhoids?
- 6 Can I get Hemorrhoids if I’ve had them before?
- 7 Should I see a Doctor About a Hemorrhoid?
- 8 How Can I Avoid Getting Hemorrhoids
What Causes Hemorrhoids?
Although the exact cause of Hemorrhoids remains unclear, doctors have identified many possible causes. Hemorrhoids are often always associated with an increase in pressure in the anus and its surrounding blood vessels. This pressure causes the many blood vessels located in and around your back-passage to become inflamed, swollen and sore.
Identifying this increase in pressure can be difficult, however most commonly the increase in pressure is often a result of straining during bowel movements. This is often caused by an insufficient amount of fiber in a sufferer’s diet.
Long-term diarrhea often seen in people suffering from medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, or irritable bowel syndrome, is another cause of increased pressure around the anus and rectum.
Other factors that increase your likelihood of developing Hemorrhoids include: being overweight, being of an older age, pregnancy, a family history of the condition, improper technique when lifting heavy objects, a persistent cough, repeated vomiting or a sedentary lifestyle.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids, like most medical conditions, is a condition that presents itself differently in those it afflicts. For example, many people who have Hemorrhoids are unaware they do so! This is because in lots of cases, unless the blood flow to the swollen blood vessels is interrupted, Hemorrhoids can display almost no symptoms.
Nevertheless, there are still plenty of cases where people suffering from Hemorrhoids experience a wide range of uncomfortable symptoms – these can include:
- The passing of bright red blood either during or after a bowel movement. With that being said, if the blood is dark you should book an appointment with a health-care professional to rule out anything more serious.
- An irritated and itchy back-passage that doesn’t subside.
- A grape-like lump that protrudes from the anus. You may have found that this lump needs to be pushed back into the anus after bowel movements.
- Any sort of discharge or mucus from the anus after emptying your bowels.
- Having a swollen, red or sore anus.
Are Hemorrhoids Contagious?
No, Hemorrhoids are not contagious.
Can Hemorrhoids Spread to Other Parts of the Body?
No, Hemorrhoids cannot spread to other parts of the body.
What Treatment Options are Available for Hemorrhoids?
Luckily, most cases of Hemorrhoids tend to clear up by themselves over a couple of days without any specific treatment. With that being said, if the Hemorrhoids are causing considerable discomfort then there are plenty of treatment options available to you.
It’s entirely possible to successfully treat Hemorrhoids at home through lifestyle and dietary changes. Some forms of treatment involve: increasing dietary fiber, increasing hydration, exercise, bathing and avoiding caffeine and alcohol.
However, if these more natural treatments for Hemorrhoids prove unsuccessful – your next port of call is your local pharmacist. Local pharmacies stock highly effective treatments for Hemorrhoids, treatments that often come in the form of creams, ointments, lotions and even suppositories. The vast majority of these are available without prescription and would be the first recommendation you would receive from a medical professional.
Nevertheless, for some people these treatments may fail to prove effective and more invasive options need to be considered. Initially doctors may prescribe stronger topical creams or medicines, however it’s equally as likely they will recommend Banding.
Banding is the process of using an extremely tight rubber band to cut off blood flow to the Hemorrhoid, after a couple of days without blood it should drop off.
If Banding proves unsuccessful, or the patient cannot tolerate it, surgery will be recommended so that the Hemorrhoid can be either drained or removed under general anesthetic.
Can I get Hemorrhoids if I’ve had them before?
Yes, you can! Hemorrhoids are often the result of lifestyle choices, so if you haven’t altered your lifestyle you will still be at risk of developing another Hemorrhoid.
Should I see a Doctor About a Hemorrhoid?
You should only book an appointment to see a doctor regarding a Hemorrhoid if you have exhausted all of the available treatment options your pharmacist has recommended. Although Hemorrhoids are rarely life threatening, they can start to take a tole on a patient’s quality of life if treatments fail to provide relief – if you find yourself in this situation then you should contact your doctor.
Your doctor may:
- Suggest a new type of topical hemorrhoid cream, ointment or suppository for you to use. This may be a prescription medication with a stronger active ingredient in it.
- Advise you undergo a non-invasive procedure such as Banding. Banding is when a tight rubber band is placed around the base of the Hemorrhoid cutting off its blood supply. After a number of days, the Hemorrhoid should drop off.
- If the Hemorrhoid is resistant to stronger medications and Banding then it’s likely your doctor will recommend a surgical procedure to drain and remove the Hemorrhoid under general anesthetic. Recovery time from this procedure is roughly 1-3 weeks.
How Can I Avoid Getting Hemorrhoids
Thankfully there are plenty of changes you can begin to implement in your lifestyle today to reduce your risk of developing Hemorrhoids, these include:
- Increasing Dietary Fiber Intake – Guidelines for dietary fiber dictate that most adults should be consuming roughly between 25-30g of fiber per day. By increasing your fiber intake, you will ease your bowel movements and help to reduce the possibility of becoming constipated; reducing constipation is a sure-fire way of reducing pressure in and around the anus and the rectum. Good sources of dietary fiber include: whole wheat & whole grain pasta, bread and rice, beans, legumes, fresh fruit & fresh vegetables, nuts, oats and seeds.
- Staying Hydrated – Recommended guidelines for water consumption state that the average adult should drink roughly 1.2 liters of water every day. Maintaining optimal hydration in the body will help to ease the digestive process, this in turn will reduce the risk of constipation and pressure around the anus and rectum.
- Don’t Put Off Toilet Trips – If you need to go to the toilet – then go to the toilet. Don’t avoid going to the toilet or put it off, doing so dehydrates your stools which in turn increases the likelihood of becoming constipated. By avoiding constipation, you will reduce the possibility of increasing the pressure in your rectum and anus responsible for Hemorrhoids.
- Enjoying Regular Exercise – Taking regular exercise helps to maintain regularity in bowel movements and is overall beneficial for gut health and your health in general.
- Reducing Intake of Caffeine & Alcohol – Reducing your intake of caffeine and alcohol will greatly reduce your susceptibility to developing a Hemorrhoid; purely because both caffeine and alcohol are diuretics responsible for dehydration and constipation.