Hemorrhoids 101

Everything You Need to Know About Hemorrhoids

Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, & Relief

Hemorrhoids, can be a real pain in the 🍑... but the truth is that 3 out of 4 adults will experience hemorrhoids at some point in their lives You would never know however because nobody wants to talk about them! We’re here to change that, so here’s everything you need to know about hemorrhoids.

Hemorrhoids occur when veins in your anus and lower rectum become swollen or enlarged. Luckily hemorrhoids are rarely a serious condition and can often be treated at home.

What are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are enlarged swollen veins that occur inside and around the anus and lower rectum. These inflamed veins can cause troublesome symptoms such as pain, itching, uncomfortable bowel movements, and even bleeding. Luckily, hemorrhoids are rarely a serious condition and can often be treated at home.

Hemorrhoid Symtoms

Hemorrhoids can occur both internally and externally, causing different symptoms.

External

These are the most common hemorrhoids that occur on the skin around your anus. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Itching
  • Bleeding… often bright red blood seen on toilet paper or in the toilet during bowel movements
  • Painful lumps around the anus
  • Painful bowel movements

Internal

Internal hemorrhoids occur higher up inside the rectum and often go unnoticed, however they can still cause pain and irritation. Some signs and symptoms may include:

  • Painless bleeding during bowel movements
  • Sensation of incomplete bowel movements
  • Protruding lump from inside the anus during bowel movements than can cause pain and irritation.

What Causes Hemorrhoids?

While hemorrhoids can often occur due to unknown causes, some factors that can increase the likelihood of hemorrhoids are:

  • Lack of sufficient fiber in your diet
  • Long periods of sitting
  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Vigorous exercise such as heavy weight lifting
  • Anal intercourse
  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Prolonged constipation or diarrhea
  • A family history of hemorrhoids 

When to See a Doctor About Hemorrhoids

While hemorrhoids are very common and treatable at home, it’s always recommended to talk to your doctor if you experience any symptoms that last longer than a few days.

While uncommon, anal or rectal bleeding can be signs of other diseases and also should warrant you speaking with your doctor.

On rare occasions, hemorrhoids can become thrombosed and and cause severe pain, swelling and bleeding.

How to Treat and Prevent Hemorrhoids

Eat More Fiber!

Fiber helps things move smoothly through our system by bulking up loose “materials” in the gut and absorbing water from your intestines like a sponge. This creates a more solid log-like stool that exits into the toilet with comfort and ease. When we don’t get enough fiber in our diets, those slick “one-wiper” bowel movements become fewer and far between, leading to more pushing and struggling on the toilet, which can in turn lead to… you guessed it, hemorrhoids.

Fiber Tip: Regularly taking a fiber supplement containing psyllium husk (like Bellway Fiber) has been shown to relieve symptoms of hemorrhoids and help prevent future hemorrhoids from forming.

Drink more water!

Like consuming fiber, staying hydrated reduces strained bowel movements and can both relieve and prevent hemorrhoids

Medication

You can purchase over-the-counter topical treatments, such as hydrocortisone or hemorrhoid cream from pharmacies to ease your discomfort from hemorrhoids. Applying witch hazel, a natural anti-inflammatory can reduce both itching and pain associated with hemorrhoids.

In more serious cases of hemorrhoids, doctors may recommend procedures such as rubber band ligation, injection therapy, or sclerotherapy to shrink or remove hemorrhoids completely.

Final Thoughts on Hemorrhoids

While they can be fairly troublesome and uncomfortable to deal with, hemorrhoids are a common condition that with treatment, will likely improve. Maintaining a regimen, that includes proper diet, water, exercise, and following your doctor's directions should relieve symptoms and reduce risk of future problems.

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