Hemorrhoids are areas in a vein located in or around the rectum. In these veins the one way valves have been damaged and allow the blood to pool. The stagnation of the blood supply then causes the veins to swell and get inflamed. This will in turn reduce the amount of toxins and wastes that can be removed from the area, and will cause itchiness and pain. Most hemorrhoids can be treated with simple changes to the diet and bowel habits. They don’t usually require surgery or any other invasive treatments unless they have become very large and painful. (1)
The first recommendation will be to make changes in your diet so that the the stool will be softer and easier to pass. This recommendation will include increasing the amount of fiber in the diet through fruits, vegetables and whole grains or including a fiber supplement. If you can’t get the required fiber from your diet and make a decision to use fiber supplements, then it is very important to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day or the stool will get harder and so more difficult to pass. Fiber works by drawing more water into the stool, making it bulkier and softer so Without water, the stool will be more compact, hard and difficult to pass.
It is very important not to strain while having a bowel movement. Straining happens when you hold your breath while pushing. Straining causes an increase in pressure in the veins inside and also around the anus, which will then increases the risk of developing hemorrhoids or worsening the symptoms of the hemorrhoids you already have.
Instead of straining, learn to breath through pushing out the stool and make an extra effort to soften the consistency as this will decrease the work required to have a bowel movement.
People who exercise regularly have an easier time with bowel movements because the exercise helps the intestine move more consistently.
Doctors may also recommend over the counter creams and hemorrhoid ointments that can help to reduce mild discomfort. These creams contain ingredients like witch hazel or hydrocortisone and will help to reduce the pain, swelling and itching. it is important that you do not use these over the counter preparations without talking to your primary care physician just to make sure they don’t interfere with any other underlying medical condition.
Your Physician will also advise you on the length of time you should take the medication.
If other treatment protocols are to be considered, then the physician could start with a nonsurgical procedure, called a fixative procedure. Fixative procedures are designed to reduce the blood supply to the hemorrhoid so that it shrinks or goes away completely. Scar tissue will remain on the spot and that will support the surrounding tissue and prevent any new hemorrhoids from developing in that area.
Fixative procedures involve tying off the hemorrhoid with a rubber band or coagulation using heat, laser or electrical current. When Using the rubber band ligation, the doctor places one or two tiny rubber bands around the base of the hemorrhoid to cut off the circulation. The idea being that without the blood supply The hemorrhoid falls off within a few days. This can be uncomfortable and can cause bleeding that is not usually severe.
The coagulation procedures – infrared, laser or bipolar – are the techniques that cause small, bleeding, internal hemorrhoids to harden and shrivel. While this method is quicker and less painful than the rubber band procedure it does have a higher incidence of recurrence where the hemorrhoid returns.
Another procedure which may be looked at is sclerotherapy. This is also used on varicose veins or spider veins in different areas of the body. It causes very little pain but is also less effective than the rubber band ligation.
Two other surgical treatments are possible for those who suffer from hemorrhoids – one is the hemorrhoidectomy and the other is stapling. In a hemorrhoidectomy the surgeon will remove most of the excess tissue that causes the bleeding. There are differant variations that can be used based on the particular situation and the overall health of the individual. The surgery is performed with a local anesthesia or combined with sedation and spinal or general anesthesia. This is definitely the most effective and complete way of removing hemorrhoid tissue but also has the highest rate of complications which include difficulty emptying the bladder or urinary tract infections.
Many people also experience pain that can be controlled with medication and warm baths.
Stapling is a procedure that blocks the blood flow to the hemorrhoidal tissue and generally results in less pain than a hemorrhoidectomy. Stapling is associated with a greater risk of recurrence and rectal prolapse.
Before anyone decides on a procedure to treat your hemorrhoids it is important that you do your own research and talk with your Doctor and surgeon about the possible side effects, possible complications and long-term results. Only after weighing up the pros and cons and evaluating these along with your current health, lifestyle and severity of your disease will you be able to make a choice about treatment protocols.
(1) National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse: Hemorrhoids