Treatment and Common Symptoms of Hemorrhoids
The term hemorrhoids refers to a condition in which the veins around the anus or lower rectum are swollen and inflamed. Fortunately, effective medications and procedures are readily available to treat hemorrhoids. In many cases hemorrhoids may require only self-care and lifestyle changes.
Although many people have hemorrhoids, not all experience symptoms. The most common symptom of internal hemorrhoids is bright red blood covering the stool, on toilet paper, or in the toilet bowl. However, an internal hemorrhoid may protrude through the anus outside the body, becoming irritated and painful. This is known as a protruding hemorrhoid.
Hemorrhoids are common. In the USA, the prevalence is about 4.4%. It is estimated that approximately one half of all Americans have had this condition by the age of 50, and that 50% to 85% of the world's population will be affected by hemorrhoids at some time in their life. However, only a small number seek medical treatment. Annually, only about 500,000 in the U.S. are medically treated for massive hemorrhage, with 10 to 20% of them requiring surgeries.
Unless there is rectal bleeding, most people with hemorrhoids can diagnose and treat the problem themselves. If you have rectal bleeding, it is important for you to see a physician, so he or she can check for more dangerous causes of bleeding.
Listed below are the most frequent causes of hemorrhoids:
Straining with bowel movements (from constipation or hard stools)
Sitting on the toilet for a long time
If the hemorrhoid originates at the top (rectal side) of the anal canal, it is referred to as an internal hemorrhoid. If it originates at the lower end of the anal canal near the anus, it is referred to as an external hemorrhoid. Technically, the differentiation between internal and external hemorrhoids is made on the basis of whether the hemorrhoid originates above or below the dentate line.
Measures to reduce symptoms include:
warm tub or sitz baths several times a day in plain, warm water for about 10 minutes
ice packs to help reduce swelling
application of petroleum jelly, cortisone creams, hemorrhoidal cream (such as Preparation-H) or suppositories to the affected area
wearing cotton underwear and loose clothing
cleaning the anus after each bowel movement by patting gently with moist toilet paper or moistened pads
taking acetaminophen or aspirin
Treatment may include warm baths and a cream or other medicine. If you have large hemorrhoids, you may need surgery and other treatments. There is no relationship between hemorrhoids and cancer. However, the symptoms of hemorrhoids, particularly bleeding, are similar to those of colorectal cancer and other diseases of the digestive system. Therefore, it is important that all symptom are investigated by a physician specially trained in treating diseases of the colon and rectum.