Health A to Z Last updated on 2021-03-23 16:56:51
Hemorrhoids: Going Through the Motions
- Dr. Sreelekha Daruvuri
- 4 Min Read
Hemorrhoids, also known as piles is a condition that results in the swelling of veins around the anus and the lower rectum. While the exact causes are unknown, an increased strain during bowel movements or pressure on the veins from pregnancy often results in hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are a very common condition that affects most individuals during their lifetime. They may present themselves without any symptoms or might cause itching, bleeding, general discomfort and pain. While the condition can be painful, there are effective treatment options available that cure this condition. Additionally, there are certain home remedies that can also help in managing the symptoms and the pain associated with hemorrhoids.
Types of hemorrhoidsThere are two main types of hemorrhoids depending on the location where they appear. A brief overview of these types is mentioned below.
- Internal hemorrhoids- These bulges in the vein are found inside the rectum. Since there are no pain-sensing nerves in this area, this kind of hemorrhoids is not usually painful and do not cause any discomfort. Excess strain while passing stools can often cause the surface of the swollen vein to burst and result in bleeding. The pressure during bowel movements can cause this hemorrhoid to protrude outside resulting in pain and irritation.
- External hemorrhoids- These are present on the skin around the anus and can cause itching, discomfort, and bleeding. When the external hemorrhoid is large enough, it can often form a thick clot. This is known as thrombosed hemorrhoid and can be quite painful. Additionally, thrombosed hemorrhoids can result in inflammations, swelling and the formation of a hard lump near the anus.
Symptoms of hemorrhoidsSome of the common signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids are-
- Presence of blood in the stools.
- Itching and irritation near the anal regions.
- Pain near the anus and discomfort in the region.
- Presence of painful lumps or swelling around the anus.
- Inflammation near the anus.
Diagnosing hemorrhoidsExternal hemorrhoids are easily diagnosable since they can be detected by a physical examination. Diagnosing internal hemorrhoids involve examination of the anal canal and the rectum. Methods of diagnosing internal hemorrhoids are-
- Digital examination- Digital examination involves the doctor inserting a gloved and lubricated finger inside the rectum and physically feeling for unusual growths and swellings. This test provides indications of growths and confirms the need for further tests.
- Visual inspection- Internal hemorrhoids are often too soft to be felt by a digital exam. In such cases, the doctor might perform a visual examination of the rectum and colon using tools like anoscope, proctoscope or a sigmoidoscope.
Treatment options for hemorrhoidsHome remedies: There is a plethora of easy to use, home remedies that are often successful in relieving the pain and inflammation that is associated with hemorrhoids. Quite often such home remedies are sufficient for treating this condition. Read on to know more about such home-based treatment methods.
- High-fibre diet- A high fibre diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains results in soft and bulky stools which helps in reducing the pressure during a bowel movement.
- Topical creams and medications- Over the counter hemorrhoid creams and hydrocortisone suppositories are effective in reducing the symptoms. Witch hazel and other numbing agents can also be used.
- Warm baths- Soaking the anal regions in a warm bath for ten to fifteen minutes, at least twice a day provides relief from pain and swelling.
- Maintaining anal hygiene- Showering daily and cleaning the skin around the anus is recommended. Perfumed or alcohol-based wipes are to be avoided.
- Applying cold- Ice packs or cold compresses are effective in reducing swellings.
Minimally invasive surgical methodsIf pain and bleeding continue even after trying out various home remedies, there are certain non-invasive or minimally invasive procedures available that a doctor can employ. These do not require any kind of anesthesia and can be performed in the doctor’s office.
- External hemorrhoid thrombectomy- In case, external hemorrhoid has turned into a painful clot, it can be removed with a simple incision and subsequent drainage. This treatment is effective when applied within 72 hours of the clot formation.
- Rubber band ligation- This treatment involves tying one or two rubber bands around hemorrhoid which cuts off the blood supply. Hemorrhoid withers off and falls out within a week.
- Injection or sclerotherapy- A chemical is injected into the hemorrhoids in order to make them shrink. The injection causes almost no pain but the treatment might be less effective than rubber band ligation.
- Coagulation using infrared, laser or bipolar lights- Coagulation using laser, infrared lights or other heat sources results in small hemorrhoids to harden and shrivel up.
Surgical methodsWhen the above-mentioned treatments prove ineffective or if the hemorrhoids are large, surgical methods are used to treat them. There are two major surgical techniques for treating hemorrhoids.
- Hemorrhoidectomy- The procedure involves surgically removing the bleeding tissues. It is performed using local or general anesthesia combined with sedatives. There is some post-surgical pain associated with this process and may also result in difficulty in emptying the bladder for a few days. This is the most effective treatment for curing hemorrhoids.
- Hemorrhoid stapling- Used only for internal hemorrhoids, the procedure is also known as stapled hemorrhoidectomy. The hemorrhoid is stapled and the blood supply is cut off from the region. The procedure is less painful than typical hemorrhoidectomy and the recovery time is also faster.
Consult a Gastroenterologist
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