Get Rid of Hemorrhoids Once and For All
December 3, 2023
Pain, itching, discomfort, bleeding, swelling. If you have these symptoms, you will probably do something about it. Why should it be any different if these symptoms you experience are in your anus or lower rectum?
We are talking about hemorrhoids, of course, and approximately 75% of us experience this common problem. However, only about 4% of people seek treatment for hemorrhoids. We know it can be an embarrassing problem to have, but with such a high prevalence among us all, there’s no reason to feel like you are alone or to continue suffering. At Alabama Colon & Rectal Institute, we can help you get rid of this problem once and for all!
What Exactly Are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in your anus and lower rectum, similar to varicose veins. There are many causes, such as straining during bowel movements or increased pressure on veins during pregnancy. Hemorrhoids may be located inside the rectum (internal hemorrhoids), or they may develop under the skin around the anus (external hemorrhoids).
People typically discover hemorrhoids by either feeling the lump of an external hemorrhoid when they wipe after a bowel movement; noticing drops of blood in the toilet bowl or on toilet paper; or feeling a prolapsing hemorrhoid (protruding from the anus) after bowel movements.
With a history of symptoms, we can make an accurate diagnosis on the basis of an examination of the anus and surrounding area. We want to identify the hemorrhoids, but it’s also very important that we rule out other causes of hemorrhoid-like symptoms, such as: anal fissures, fistulae, bowel disorders like ulcerative colitis, blood coagulation disorders, perianal (around the anus) skin diseases, infections, and tumors.
We want to stress that you should not assume that rectal bleeding is due to hemorrhoids, especially if you are over 40 years of age. Rectal bleeding can occur with other diseases, including colorectal cancer. If you have bleeding along with a noticeable change in bowel habits or if your stools change in color or consistency, consult your doctor. These types of stools can signal more extensive bleeding elsewhere in your digestive tract. Seek emergency care if you experience large amounts of rectal bleeding, lightheadedness, dizziness, or faintness.
How We Can Treat Hemorrhoids
First, as mentioned above, ruling out other conditions is very important, and getting a medical exam will help us recommend an effective treatment plan.
One of the first things we will do is ask you to describe your symptoms. Then we perform an examination to see whether your anus is inflamed, and whether enlarged hemorrhoids are present. While we know this might be a little embarrassing, hemorrhoid exams are usually painless but somewhat uncomfortable. Also remember that we have done this thousands of times, as our nickname suggests! It’s no big deal to us, and we just want to help you as best as we can.
If you seem to have enlarged hemorrhoids, we may recommend a proctoscopy. During a proctoscopy, a short tube with a light and lens will be used to examine the lining of your rectum and anus. This allows us to better see the enlarged hemorrhoids and determine their size. This procedure is usually painless as well.
Prevention & Treatment for Hemorrhoids
You will be happy to know that there are many effective prevention and treatment options for hemorrhoids. Many people can get relief from symptoms with home treatments and lifestyle changes.
The best way to prevent hemorrhoids is to keep your stools soft so they pass easily. To prevent hemorrhoids and reduce symptoms, try to incorporate this advice into your lifestyle:
- More high-fiber foods -- This means increase fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet to help soften stool and increase its bulk. This will help you avoid the straining that can cause hemorrhoids.
- More fluids -- You need six to eight glasses of water and other liquids (not including alcohol) each day to help keep stools soft.
- Maybe fiber supplements -- Most people don't get enough daily fiber, which is 25 grams a day for women and 38 grams a day for men. Studies have shown that over-the-counter fiber supplements, such as Metamucil and Citrucel, can improve overall symptoms and bleeding from hemorrhoids. These products help keep stools soft and regular.
- No more straining -- Straining and holding your breath when trying to pass a stool creates greater pressure in the veins in the lower rectum.
- Go when the need hits you -- If you wait to pass a bowel movement and the urge goes away, your stool could become dry and be harder to pass.
- More exercise -- Stay active to help prevent constipation and reduce pressure on veins, which can occur with long periods of standing or sitting. Exercise can also help you lose excess weight that may be contributing to your hemorrhoids.
When a Hemorrhoidectomy May Be Needed
If prevention methods aren’t successful and you are still having problems with large hemorrhoids, we may recommend a surgical procedure for hemorrhoid removal, also called hemorrhoidectomy. With this procedure, we remove excessive tissue that causes bleeding. Various techniques may be used, and the surgery may be done with a local anesthetic combined with sedation, a spinal anesthetic, or general anesthetic.
Hemorrhoidectomy is the most effective and complete way to treat severe or recurring hemorrhoids. Most patients that do end up requiring operative intervention tell us they are happy they had the procedure done, and many say that they wish they had done it sooner.