Hemorrhoid symptoms may go away with diet and lifestyle modifications. You must, however, seek immediate medical care if your symptoms do not go away in a week or you experience symptoms such as severe anal pain and bleeding from the rectum, discomfort or pain in the abdomen, diarrhea, or fever.
Management of hemorrhoids includes the following:
- Eating fiber-rich foods
- Taking a stool softener or a fiber supplement such as psyllium and methylcellulose
- Drinking plenty of water and other nonalcoholic fluids as advised by the doctor
- Avoiding straining during bowel movements
- Avoiding sitting on the toilet for long periods
- Taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers
- Taking a warm bath or sitz bath several times a day. Sitz bath involves sitting in a tub of warm water.
- Applying OTC hemorrhoid creams and ointments or using suppositories (a medicine you insert into the rectum)
If home management for piles does not help, medical help is needed. Doctors may recommend a medical procedure for the treatment. These procedures include cutting off the blood supply to the hemorrhoid, which makes it shrink and go away. The procedures include the following:
- Rubber band ligation: In this procedure, the doctor places a special rubber band around the base of the hemorrhoid to cut off the blood supply.
- Sclerotherapy: It involves injecting a solution (sclerosant) into an internal hemorrhoid.
- Infrared photocoagulation: This procedure involves using a tool to direct light of a certain wavelength at an internal hemorrhoid to shrink it.
- Electrocoagulation: In this procedure, a doctor uses a special tool that sends an electric current into an internal hemorrhoid.
- Hemorrhoidectomy: It is a surgical procedure to remove large external hemorrhoids and prolapsing internal hemorrhoids (hemorrhoids that bulge out of the anus)
- Hemorrhoid stapling: In this procedure, the surgeon uses a special stapling tool to remove internal hemorrhoids and pull a prolapsing internal hemorrhoid back into the anus.
What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids, commonly called piles, are swollen, inflamed veins around the anus or lower part of the rectum (the terminal part of the large bowel). Hemorrhoids are common in both men and women. It is estimated that one in 20 Americans have hemorrhoids. They occur more commonly with age; around 50% of the Americans over 50 years of age are affected.
Hemorrhoids may be felt as tiny lumps in and around the anus. They may often get better on their own within a few days, but some may need medications and even surgery to go away. Hemorrhoids are of two main types:
- External hemorrhoids: They form under the skin around the anus.
- Internal hemorrhoids: They form in the lining of the anus and lower rectum.
Hemorrhoids may cause the following symptoms:
- Itching in and around the anus
- Hard, tender lumps felt at the bottom (anus)
- Anal pain, especially while sitting
- Bleeding from the rectum observed as bright red blood in the stool, on toilet paper, or in the toilet bowl after a bowel movement
- A bulging or swelling may be felt through the anus in case of a prolapsed hemorrhoid (a hemorrhoid that has bulged or fallen through the anal opening)
What causes hemorrhoids?
Piles or hemorrhoids generally happen when there is a lot of pressure on the veins around the anus. This raised pressure may happen because of the following reasons:
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