Hemorrhoids cause both pain and embarrassment. Due to their location, many people will refuse to go to the doctor because they feel ashamed.
However, even if they are painful, they can be treated easily. It is recommended to treat them as soon as they appear. In this article, we will find out what they are, their types, symptoms, causes, and treatments.
Hemorrhoids are vascular structures found in the anal canal. They function as cushions that help with stool control. However, when they become swollen or inflamed, they can be really uncomfortable.
Although this term applies to both healthy and inflamed veins, this meaning is commonly used to refer to the second ones. They are also popularly known as piles.
In most cases, the cause is unknown but may occur as a result of overexertion during bowel movements. They also occur during pregnancy, due to increased pressure in veins.
They can develop both internally and externally. Those located inside the rectum are known as internal hemorrhoids, while those that develop under the skin around the anus are external.
Thrombosed hemorrhoids are caused by the formation of a clot. Although they are not dangerous, they can cause a lot of pain and sometimes need to be cut and drained.
Fortunately, there are many effective treatment options for relieving and curing piles. Some of them are home remedies.
They are so common that research estimates that about three out of four adults will have them from time to time.
As mentioned above, there are two types of hemorrhoids: internal and external. Although both varieties can be very different, many people can suffer from a combination of the two.
The internal ones are found within the anal cavity and usually cannot be seen or cause discomfort. However, straining or irritation when defecating can damage its surface and cause it to bleed.
Sometimes, excessive overexertion can push an internal pile through the anal canal. In these cases when it protrudes and prolapses can cause a lot of pain and irritation.
These form under the skin around the anus. When, for whatever reason, they become irritated, they can cause great itching and bleeding.
Sometimes, blood can pool and form a clot, or thrombus, which can cause severe pain, swelling, inflammation, and the appearance of a lump near the anus. This is known as thrombosed hemorrhoids.
Although piles evolve differently depending on where they are located, signs and symptoms may include:
The exact cause of symptomatic hemorrhoids is unknown. It is hypothesized that there are a number of factors that may play an important role in causing inflammation of these vascular structures.
Possible causes include:
The appearance of piles during pregnancy is very common. This is due to the pressure that the fetus exerts on the abdomen, along with the hormonal changes typical of this period, making the hemorrhoidal vessels enlarge. Also, increased intra-abdominal pressure may also occur during childbirth.
However, pregnant women rarely need surgical treatment, as symptoms usually remit naturally after childbirth.
Although they can affect people of all ages, including young people and children, hemorrhoids tend to be more likely to appear in adults between 45 and 65 years old.
Overexertion, caused by diarrhea and chronic constipation, can put additional pressure on blood vessel walls.
This can also be one of the causes of hemorrhoids.
In addition to the above causes there are other situations or conditions that, although less frequently, can also facilitate the appearance of hemorrhoids. For example, repeated heavy lifting, anal sex, diet-related obesity, or genetics may also be related to piles.
If they cause only mild discomfort, your doctor may recommend the use of anti-hemorrhoid cream or suppositories. These products contain witch hazel, hydrocortisone, and lidocaine, which can relieve pain and itching.
However, in cases of thrombosed internal hemorrhoids, persistent hemorrhages and pain, drains or a rubber band ligation may be performed.
Finally, if none of the above treatments are effective or if piles reach a considerably large size, surgical removal may be necessary.
There are also remedies that can relieve the mild pain, swelling and inflammation caused by piles and that can be done at home. However, if the symptoms do not disappear within a week, if they are very painful or if bleeding occurs, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
Some home remedies include:
Eating fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, softens stool consistency and increases its volume. This also helps to prevent overexertion.
Applying anti-hemorrhoid cream or hydrocortisone suppositories, both available in pharmacies is also effective. Remember to follow the instructions.
Regular soaking of the anal area in lukewarm water, taking baths two or three times a day for 10 to 15 minutes can also be effective in relieving the annoying symptoms of piles.
Daily baths or showers, gently cleansing the skin around the anus with warm water is a very effective home remedy to prevent the severity of the condition from intensifying.
It is important to avoid alcohol-based or perfumed wipes that may irritate the affected area.
To help keep the anal area clean after bowel movements, alcohol-free wet wipes or moist toilet paper may be used.
If we want to relieve the swelling, ice packs or cold compresses can be applied on the anus.
If the pain is intense, you can use analgesics, such as acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen until it remits.
Lorenzo-Rivero, S. (2009). Hemorrhoids: diagnosis and current management. American Surgery, 75(8): 635–642.
Sun, Z. & Migaly, J. (2016). Review of Hemorrhoid Disease: Presentation and Management. Clinics in colon and rectal surgery, 29(1): 22–29.