Hemorrhoids are a common and uncomfortable or even painful problem for many people. They occur when veins in the rectum or anal area become enlarged and swollen (thrombosed). These swollen veins form a round or oval painful lump just inside or outside your rectum, making bowel movements painful or difficult.
- One way to both treat and help prevent hemorrhoids is to include fiber in your diet. Fiber supplementation moves stool through your system, and makes bowel movements smoother. Increasing fiber in your diet can help ease pain during bowel movements.
- Over-the-counter laxatives can also help make bowel movements more regular and easier. Laxatives help prevent constipation and thereby prevent hemorrhoid pain and recurrence.
- Sitz baths can soothe pain and itching from hemorrhoids. You can purchase a stiz bath in a drug store, or use your bath tub and sit in 2 to 3 inches of warm water for 10 to 15 minutes several times daily. This helps improve blood flow and relaxes the muscles around the anus.
- Topical preparations include over-the-counter medications (Preparation H, Anusol) and prescription creams and suppositories designed to take away the itch and shrink the hemorrhoid tissue. Medications containing cortisone are used to help acute symptoms but should not be used more than a week.
- When symptoms are not relieved with conservative treatments surgery may be necessary. Procedures include rubber band ligation, laser coagulation, stapled hemorrhoidectomy, and sclerotherapy. Your doctor will determine if these procedures are needed.
Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD; American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care
UpToDate. Treatment of hemorrhoids.