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Hemorrhoids

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A hemorrhoid is the condition that leads to swelling and inflammation of the veins of the anus and rectum. Hemorrhoids can also be referred to as the piles, and is a fairly common condition that can be temporary or permanent, and can affect the outer veins or the inner veins of the rectum. While some hemorrhoids require a physician and the care of the medical community, it is more common for hemorrhoids to be dealt with through self care and a few simple lifestyle changes. By age 50, approximately half of all American adults have dealt with the presence of hemorrhoids.

HEMORRHOIDS SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Internal hemorrhoids can not be seen or felt by the patient except for a serious discomfort and the onset of symptoms. Symptoms of hemorrhoids can include itching and burning sensations of the anus and rectum. Internal hemorrhoids tend to bleed mildly when the patient passes stools or strains when using the toilet. Soft stools mat pass without incident while harder stools may cause painful excretion. External hemorrhoids can often be very painful, which can be seen and felt by the patient. External hemorrhoids tend to pool with blood and become highly inflamed and very painful. This can lead to discomfort when attempting to sit for long periods of time, and even sometimes just walking can irritate an external hemorrhoid. Often external hemorrhoids can itch or spontaneously bleed.
Hemorrhoids
Image: Hemorrhoids

HEMORRHOIDS CAUSES

Constipation and the straining that typically accompanies constipation is a leading cause for hemorrhoids. Extreme cases of diarrhea and the chronic irritation caused by the expulsion of stools as well as the increase in the use of toilet tissue are likely to contribute to or cause a hemorrhoid. Sitting or standing for a long period of time, sitting for extended periods of time on the toilet, and pregnancy can all lead to hemorrhoids. There is evidence that supports that heredity does play a role in a patient’s likelihood for developing hemorrhoids.

HEMORRHOIDS DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosing hemorrhoids is done typically with a physical examination. External hemorrhoids are easy to see from the outside of the body, but internal hemorrhoids may require a rectal examination. Internal hemorrhoids are usually fairly undetectable even with a rectal examination as they tend to be very soft and can not be felt with a finger.

In cases where rectal bleeding and discomfort is a problem, other tests may be performed to rule out causes other than hemorrhoids.
External hemorrhoid
Image: External hemorrhoid

HEMORRHOIDS TREATMENT

In most cases, a physician can determine the likelihood of hemorrhoids simply by the patient’s complaints. If rectal bleeding is severe, or if the hemorrhoids do not begin to heal even after treatment, a physician is likely to perform a rectal examination with a proctoscope, an anoscope, or a sigmoid scope. In some cases, a full colon examination will be necessary in which case an examination with a fiber optic colonoscope is recommended. These tests are done to rule out more serious health conditions and to examine the extent of the hemorrhoids.


Mild cases of hemorrhoids can usually be treated with over the counter medications and cream which help to relieve symptoms as well as heal the hemorrhoids. In more severe cases, or if a blood clot has formed, a simple surgical procedure may relieve the symptoms. Surgical procedures include the simple snipping of the blood clot, a rubber band ligation, sclerotherapy, infrared light, or a more complex surgical procedure. A rubber band ligation is the most common and the most appealing for most patients, as it can be done in a physician’s office and is quick and simple. One or two tiny rubber bands are wrapped around the hemorrhoid which cuts off the blood supply, and the hemorrhoid falls off. For large hemorrhoids or for hemorrhoids that have not responded to other treatments or are causing significant discomfort, a hemorrhoidectomy can be performed. This entails simply removing the hemorrhoids surgically.

Self care is usually the first line of defense when it comes to hemorrhoid pain and discomfort. Keeping the anus very clean is vital to avoiding hemorrhoidal complications. Soaking in warm baths, applying topical ointments and topical anesthetics, the use of special moistened wipes instead of dry toilet paper, applying cold compresses, and oral pain relievers can all help in relieving hemorrhoid symptoms such as itching and pain.
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