Ryan is an experienced health writer helping educate and inform people on all types of important health topics. He lives in Salt Lake City, UT and can be found recreating in the local mountains.
Po-Chang Hsu, M.D.
Dr. Hsu received his medical degree from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, and holds a Master’s of Science degree from both Harvard University and Tufts University. Outside of the medical profession, Dr. Hsu loves to write, learn new languages, and travel.
April 13, 2021
Hemorrhoids cause pain, irritation, swollen anus, and itching. Almost half of the population will suffer from hemorrhoids at least once by the time they reach 50 years of age. It is more common among obese people and pregnant women, and susceptibility can also be inherited from parents.
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Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, happen when the veins around the anus or rectum become swollen to the extent of causing pain or bleeding. They can occur internally or externally.
Although more prominent among obese people and pregnant women, hemorrhoids can affect anybody.
The symptoms may be painful and can last a long time, but hemorrhoids are not life-threatening and are easily treated. Even if a hemorrhoid is left untreated, it will go away naturally except in severe cases. Notwithstanding, it is advisable to seek medical treatment to reduce the duration and intensity of symptoms and lower chances for complications.
Hemorrhoid pain is the primary symptom, which can be severe. For internal instances, hemorrhoid pain is usually absent. This pain is caused by pressure on the rectal veins that activate sensitive nerves in that area.
In extreme cases, hemorrhoids may cause other symptoms around the anus, including:
The leading causes of hemorrhoids include:
These can cause pressure buildup on rectal veins, resulting in hemorrhoids. Any activity that puts excess strain on the veins in and around the anus can cause hemorrhoids.
There are two kinds of hemorrhoids; external and internal.
External hemorrhoids occur externally near the anus. They are more common than internal ones, as well as more painful.
As the name suggested, internal hemorrhoids form on the interior part of the anus or the veins in the rectum. These kinds of hemorrhoids are not as common nor as painful as external hemorrhoids.
“Internal hemorrhoids lie inside the rectum,” cites Mayo Clinics’ hemorrhoids information sheet. “You usually can’t see or feel them, and they rarely cause discomfort.”
Internal hemorrhoids can become external. Sometimes straining on the toilet can cause a prolapsed hemorrhoid (internal hemorrhoids pushed through the anal opening). If this occurs, you will feel the discomfort and pain associated with hemorrhoids.
As if they didn’t have enough going on already! Pregnant women have increased risk because veins at the rectum or anus are enlarged, contributing to hemorrhoids. During pregnancy, the womb increases in size, exerting pressure on the veins linking with organs around it. This extra pressure might make the veins in the colon swell and cause hemorrhoids.
Excess fat on the body can also strain the veins, making those obese at a higher risk of hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids are hereditary (can run in the family). If your parent or any family member has experienced hemorrhoids before, you are more likely to experience them as well.
If you spend large amounts of time on the toilet seat, you may be at a higher risk of hemorrhoids.
It is challenging to prevent hemorrhoids caused by genetics, but you can reduce your chances of this painful condition by avoiding strain on rectal and anal veins. Avoid sitting for a long time, avoid heavy lifting, and exercise regularly with an appropriate diet to maintain a healthy weight.
You can also avoid constipation by eating foods rich in fiber, drinking water regularly, and going to the toilet as soon as you feel the urge.
To relieve hemorrhoid pain, you can use over-the-counter painkillers. You can apply a warm water bottle to your anus for a few minutes or soak your lower body in a warm bath. You can also apply some creams on the anus to relieve symptoms of hemorrhoids. You may need to repeat this every day until the situation improves.
If you have constipation or the hemorrhoids are causing difficulty passing stool, you may use fiber supplements. These supplements will make your stool softer and easier to pass.
Besides relieving symptoms, you can shrink the swollen veins at home by applying ice to your anus.
If you don’t treat hemorrhoids, they will likely go away naturally – but it’s better to treat them and reduce the likelihood of further complications. There are two main options for treating this condition: relieving hemorrhoid symptoms and shrinking the swollen veins.
Doctors usually treat hemorrhoids in two ways: tightening the swollen veins with specialized rubber bands to make the veins shrink or injecting medicine to reduce the inflammation. Both procedures must be administered only by a medical professional.
Consulting a doctor, either online or in-person, gives you the best chances of safe and successful treatment for hemorrhoids. Online doctors can make personalized recommendations and even prescribe medication as needed.
EverydayDr recommends PlushCare for finding an online doctor. They only use accredited doctors who graduated from a top-50 medical school, and you can usually book an appointment for the same day.
To speak with a doctor about hemorrhoid treatment, book an appointment and see a doctor today.
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