Hemorrhoids and Fissures
What are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins inside or around the rectum - the final portion of your colon. The anus is the actual opening at the end of your rectum. Hemorrhoids are not caused by any bacteria or infection. There are two kinds of hemorrhoids: internal and external hemorrhoids. Internal hemorrhoids occur when veins get swollen inside the rectum. External hemorrhoids occur when veins swell near the opening of the anus. You can have both at the same time, and they are extremely common.
How Dangerous are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are usually not dangerous. However, many people seek treatment because they can be very painful.
How do I get Hemorrhoids?
- Straining when having a bowel movement causes increased pressure in the rectal veins, causing the veins to swell and stretch
- Pregnant women near the end of the pregnancies can get hemorrhoids because of the increased pressure on blood vessels near the pelvic area from the fetus. When giving birth, the intense strain can make hemorrhoids worse
- Obesity can cause hemorrhoids. The increased weight increases pressure on these vessels, leading to hemorrhoids
- Diarrhea or constipation increases pressure on the rectal veins
- Medical conditions like long-term heart or liver disease can cause blood to collect in the abdomen and pelvic area, causing the veins to swell
Signs of Hemorrhoids:
How are Hemorrhoids diagnosed?
- To check for external hemorrhoids, your doctor will look at the area for any signs of visible bulging veins
- To check for internal hemorrhoids, your doctor will insert a gloved, lubricated finger into your anus to feel for hemorrhoids. Your doctor may also use a scope with a light on it to look inside the rectum
How are Hemorrhoids Treated?
- Be very gentle with the anus when wiping after a bowel movement, and use moistened toilet paper to prevent rubbing and irritation
- Do not use soaps that include strong scents or other irritating chemicals
- For the pain and itching, take over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- Apply ice several times a day for about 10 minutes each time, followed by applying a warm compress
- Take a sitz baths - fill your bathtub with just enough warm (not hot!) water to cover the anal area for about 15 minutes to soothe the area, especially after a bowel movement
- Take pressure off the area by not sitting for long periods of time. Take breaks, or use a pillow as a chair cushion. Avoid lifting heavy objects, which increases pressure in the area
- Wear 100% cotton underwear and loose clothing, which prevents moisture buildup that irritates hemorrhoids
How can you prevent Hemorrhoids?
- Avoid constipation – constipation causes you to strain during bowel movements, which greatly increases the pressure in the rectal veins. Eating foods high in fiber like fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, and drinking lots of water throughout the day helps prevent constipation. Exercising, even a little, can help, as well as taking a fiber supplement like Metamucil every day
- Do not strain when having a bowel movement – relax and allow things to happen naturally. Do not hold your breath when passing stools, and do not stay on the toilet longer than necessary (do not read the paper)
- Change your daily habits – do not sit for a long time, or use a pillow cushion if you must. Take frequent walking breaks. Do not lift heavy objects or hold your breath when lift. For pregnant women, sleeping on your side helps divert the pressure away from the pelvic area
Do you think you might have this condition? Ask a dermatologist