How to Deal with Hemorrhoids (and Know When You Need Help)
Though hemorrhoids are common, nearly three out of four adults will have them at some point in their lives. Understanding the causes and symptoms can help you know if you need to seek a hemorrhoid specialist in Los Angeles.
What Is a Hemorrhoid?
Similar to varicose veins, hemorrhoids (sometimes called piles) are swollen veins in the anus and lower rectum. The walls of the blood vessels can become strained and thinned so that the veins bulge, becoming painful and irritated. Hemorrhoids can form internally around the lower rectum or externally around the anus.
Hemorrhoids can result from one of any number of causes, including:
Straining during bowel movements
Increased pressure on the rectum and anus due to pregnancy
Straining during physical exertion like heavy lifting
Standing or sitting for a prolonged time
Persistent constipation or diarrhea
However, hemorrhoids can appear without any apparent cause. Any activity that interferes with the blood flow to and from the rectum can potentially cause hemorrhoids because it causes the blood to pool in the veins, enlarging the vessels.
Hemorrhoid symptoms vary according to whether or not they are located internally or externally. General signs and symptoms include:
Bleeding during bowel movements, though it may be painless
Itching and irritation of the anus
Swelling around the anus
A sensitive or painful lump near the anus
Internal and external hemorrhoids may manifest themselves in different ways. Internal hemorrhoids cannot be seen or felt and don’t usually cause discomfort. However, you may experience bleeding when straining during a bowel movement. Internal hemorrhoids occasionally push out through the anal opening, creating a protruding or prolapsed hemorrhoid.
External hemorrhoids are under the skin around the anus. They may itch or bleed if irritated.
Thrombosed hemorrhoids form when blood pools in an external hemorrhoid and forms a clot. This condition forms a hard lump near the anus and causes severe pain, swelling, and inflammation.
Relief and Treatment
Some hemorrhoids can be avoided by making some simple changes to diet and behavior, including:
Increased Fiber: A diet high in fiber can help prevent the straining that leads to hemorrhoids. Drinking plenty of fluid in conjunction with more fiber can soften stools and relieve pressure on the rectum. Eating high fiber foods like broccoli, beans, whole wheat, and fresh fruit allows you to naturally relieve pressure and the consequent symptoms. If bloating or gas causes a problem, add fiber in slowly while increasing your fluids until your body adjusts.
More Exercise: Exercise stimulates the bowels and helps treat constipation. Start out small with a 20- to 30-minute walk and work your way up toward more vigorous exercise.
Take Your Time and Don’t Wait: When you feel the urge to use the bathroom, don’t wait, as it can put extra pressure on the rectum. Go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge, and don’t rush, so the body has time to clear everything out of the bowels.
Topical Creams and Ointments: Over-the-counter creams and ointments contain an anesthetic that can temporarily relieve symptoms. You can also try witch hazel wipes, ice packs, and sitting on a cushion.
Sitz Bath: A warm bath can help relax the sphincter muscles. You can buy a small plastic tub that fits over a toilet seat or use your bathtub.
When You Need Medical Treatment
If your hemorrhoid pain becomes too severe or if an internal hemorrhoid prolapses, you may need treatment from a qualified specialist. There are a variety of treatment options available to patients dealing with hemorrhoids, including rubber band ligation, scierotherapy, transanal hemorrhoidal dearterialization (THD), and a traditional hemorrhoidectomy.
Specializing in robotic and minimally invasive techniques our colorectal surgeons, Dr. Yosef Nasseri and Dr. Moshe Barnajian, have an unparalleled expertise in the field of hemorrhoid and colorectal treatment.
You can call us today at (424) 303-4949 for more information about hemorrhoid treatment options.