If you’re dealing with hemorrhoids, you’re not alone. Even Napoleon suffered from hemorrhoids, which distracted him with severe pain during his defeat at Waterloo. Hemorrhoids are a tricky condition because it isn’t until you start experiencing problems that you realize they are there. However, hemorrhoids aren’t very rare. In fact, around 50% of adults experience hemorrhoids by the time they are 50 years old. Women often get them during pregnancy. Hemorrhoids are not an extremely serious condition, but they can be very uncomfortable and painful.
If you are experiencing pain or discomfort around your anus, you might have hemorrhoids. Here is everything you need to know:
What are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoidal tissue consists of blood vessels, connective tissue, and some muscle. Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swollen veins in the anus and lower rectum. Many people think hemorrhoids are abnormal, but they actually help control bowel movements.
Hemorrhoids can be internal or external. Internal hemorrhoids are inside the rectum and are generally painless. The first sign is rectal bleeding. Sometimes, straining can push an internal hemorrhoid to protrude outside of the anus, and you may be able to see or feel them. This is called a protruding or prolapsed hemorrhoid and can be extremely painful. They will usually return inside the rectum on their own but can be gently pushed back in.
External hemorrhoids are visible and develop underneath the skin around the anus. They look like blue-ish bumps and can cause extreme pain because of the sensitive nerves in this area. If you strain while passing a stool, there is a possibility they could bleed. Even though the pain may be intense, they are not very serious and should resolve on their own within a couple of weeks.
Hemorrhoids are most common in both men and women between 45 and 65 years old. You should look for the following symptoms to determine if you may have hemorrhoids:
- Bleeding during bowel movements (even a little blood on the toilet paper)
- Itching or irritation in your anal region
- Pain or discomfort
- Swelling around your anus
- A sensitive or painful lump near your anus
There are a number of reasons hemorrhoids may develop, but the ultimate cause is unknown. The most common causes are irregular bowel movement, pregnancy, and age.
Symptomatic hemorrhoids can be caused by constipation, excessive straining during a hard bowel, and sitting on the toilet for extended periods. All of this can disrupt the blood flow to the anal cushions and result in bulging and prolapse of internal hemorrhoids or blood clotting in external hemorrhoids. Even chronic diarrhea and excessive laxative use can worsen the symptoms.
During pregnancy, the uterus pushes against the anal cushions as the uterus grows. However, it is usually temporary and will resolve after child birth. As we age, the hemorrhoid tissue weakens and can prolapse.
Although hemorrhoids are uncomfortable and painful, they are easily treatable! Even though 75% of people will experience hemorrhoids at some point in their life, only 4% will visit a doctor. You should never assume the bleeding is due to hemorrhoids. There are many other diseases that can also cause rectal bleeding, like colorectal cancer and anal cancer.
It is recommended that you make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as the symptoms appear because even hemorrhoids can worsen over time. A doctor will perform a physical examination and other tests to determine if you have hemorrhoids. The doctor will most likely perform a digital rectal exam, a manual inspection using a gloved, lubricated finger. He may need to use a small tube, an anoscope, to get a closer look. Another alternative test is a flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy that will help the doctor see inside the colon and rectum with a lighted, bendable tube.
If the doctor determines you have hemorrhoids, there are a few treatments they may decide to perform. Ligation is when the doctor places special rubber bands around internal hemorrhoids to cut off the blood supply until they shrink. The doctor may also treat the area with sclerotherapy, a chemical injected to break down the swollen tissue. For very large or stubborn hemorrhoids, hemorrhoidectomy might be an option. Hemorrhoidectomy is a surgical procedure to cut out the swollen tissues.
If a patient’s stools are mostly soft, there is a very small chance of developing hemorrhoids. Here are the best ways to prevent hemorrhoids from developing:
- Eat foods rich in fiber, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, to help keep stool soft.
- Drink plenty of fluids, especially water.
- Take over-the-counter fiber supplements to help with constipation.
- Don’t strain on the toilet.
- When you need to use the toilet, don’t wait. Waiting to use the bathroom can make stools dry.
- Be active! If you sit or stand for long periods of time, you are putting a lot of pressure on the veins. Physical activity helps stool movement.
- Watch your weight. Being overweight raises the risk of hemorrhoids.
Visit Gonzaba Urgent Care for Hemorrhoid Treatment
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with hemorrhoids, visit Gonzaba Urgent Care to receive hemorrhoid treatment. There are three Gonzaba Urgent Care Centers conveniently located throughout San Antonio, Texas. Our urgent cares are open 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Get help today!