So You Don't Think You've Had Hemorrhoids...
The truth about hemorrhoids may surprise you; nearly half of the population has experienced one or more by age 50. Often times, individuals may have hemorrhoids and not even be aware of them. While there are common symptoms that include rectal pain, itching, bleeding and even prolapse (when the hemorrhoid externally protrudes); many individuals may not have any noticeable symptoms.
Experts suggest that in one sense, we all have hemorrhoids. In fact, they are completely natural. Hemorrhoids are tissues or cushions of blood vessels that swell slightly during bowel movements to protect the lining of the anal canal. However, when there is frequent straining during bowel movements, chronic constipation or diarrhea, or even sitting on the toilet for prolonged periods of time, this can cause hemorrhoids to become enlarged and irritated.
You may be wondering what we can do to minimize the risk of hemorrhoids or how to prevent and treat them; the good news is there are many options.
What can I do to prevent them?
It’s not always possible to stop hemorrhoids from happening, but you can reduce your risk by utilizing these tips:
- Eat a healthy diet, with plenty of fiber and liquids
- Limit the amount of time you sit on the toilet
- Work with your healthcare provider to manage constipation and prevent straining
- Stay at a healthy weight
How can I treat them?
In addition to adopting healthy lifestyle behaviors that can help to minimize and prevent them, there are several ways you can relieve symptoms. Also, work with your physician to find the best treatment plan for you to ease the strain and prevent future hemorrhoids.
- Take sitz baths. Taking a sitz bath means sitting in a few inches of warm bath water. Soaking for 10 minutes twice a day can provide welcome relief from painful hemorrhoids. It can also help the area stay clean.
- Develop good bowel habits. Use the bathroom when you need to. Don’t ignore the urge to move your bowels. This can lead to constipation, hard stools, and straining. Also, don’t read while on the toilet. Sit only as long as needed. Wipe gently with soft, unscented toilet tissue or baby wipes.
- Use ice packs. Placing an ice pack on a thrombosed external hemorrhoid can help relieve pain right away. It will also help reduce the blood clot. Use the ice for 15 to 20minutes at a time. Keep a cloth between the ice and your skin to prevent skin damage.
- Use other measures. Laxatives and enemas can help ease constipation. But use them only on your healthcare provider’s advice. For symptom relief, try using cotton pads soaked in witch hazel. These are available at most drugstores. Over-the-counter hemorrhoid ointments and petroleum jelly can also provide relief.
While hemorrhoids can be a real pain in the rear end, they don’t have to be. There are easy lifestyle changes you can make to promote healthy bowel movements and help to prevent them all together. However, in the even that you are still experiencing painful symptoms or external hemorrhoids, Gwinnett Medical Center can provide specialized care for you. With compassionate physicians and expert colon & rectal surgeons, our specialists offer an extensive array of treatment options to help you heal quickly and safely.