Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are common ailments. In fact, most people think hemorrhoids are abnormal, when they are actually present in everyone. It is only when the hemorrhoidal tissues enlarge that hemorrhoids can cause problems and be considered abnormal or a disease. By age 50, about half of adults have had to deal with the itching, discomfort and bleeding that are brought about by the presence of hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are swollen and inflamed veins in your anus and lower rectum and are classified into 2 types, internal and external. Hemorrhoids are more likely as you get older because the tissues that support the veins in your rectum and anus can weaken and stretch with aging.
Internal hemorrhoids are located inside the rectum while external hemorrhoids are located under the skin around the anus. Occasionally, straining when passing a stool can push an internal hemorrhoid through the anal opening. This is known as a protruding or prolapsed hemorrhoid and can cause pain and irritation. Additionally, straining when passing stool can also damage a hemorrhoid’s surface causing it to bleed. External hemorrhoids are generally located under the skin around your anus. When irritated, external hemorrhoids can itch or even bleed. In addition to straining, hemorrhoids can be caused by sitting for long periods of time, a diet low in fiber, as well as pregnancy and obesity (both of which cause increased pressure on the veins).
Hemorrhoid symptoms usually depend on the location. Internal hemorrhoids lie inside the rectum. You often can’t see or feel these hemorrhoids, and they generally don’t cause discomfort. External hemorrhoids on the other hand can present themselves with a variety of symptoms. One of the most common symptoms is painless bleeding during bowel movements. You might notice small amounts of bright red blood on your toilet tissue or in the toilet bowl immediately following a bowel movement. Itching, swelling or irritation in your anal region is also fairly common for those individuals suffering with hemorrhoids. Occasionally individuals will also develop a lump near the anus which may be sensitive.
Fortunately, many effective options are available to treat hemorrhoids. Many over-the-counter products are sold for the treatment of hemorrhoids. Products used for the treatment of hemorrhoids are available as ointments, creams, gels, suppositories, foams, and pads. However, there are few studies showing that they actually do anything other than reduce the symptoms of the hemorrhoids. Most people find that they can get similar relief from their symptoms by using simple home treatments and making lifestyle changes.
One of the most popular home remedies for hemorrhoids is simply increasing your fiber intake. Generally 20-30 grams per day of fiber are recommended whereas the average American diet contains less than 15 grams of fiber. Foods high in fiber include bran (wheat, rice and oat), raspberries, blackberries, acorn and butternut squash, and beans. Additionally, fiber supplements can be purchased in most drug and health food stores. Sitz baths are also an effective home treatment for hemorrhoids. Sitting in a few inches of hot water 1-3 times a day for 15 to 20 minutes has been proven to help decrease the inflammation of the hemorrhoids. Another effective home remedy is witch hazel. It is thought to decrease the bleeding of hemorrhoids by acting as an astringent. It can also relieve the pain, itching and swelling associated with hemorrhoids. Witch hazel should be applied topically to the anal area in the form of witch hazel distilled liquid, ointment, or medicated pads.