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What you need to know about hemorrhoids

  • HEMORRHOIDS

    Hemorrhoids are swollen and inflamed veins in the lowest part of the rectum and the anus that cause discomfort and bleeding. The hemorrhoids could either be internal or external.

    INTERNAL HEMORRHOIDS

    These, as the name implies, are far enough inside the rectum that one cannot see or feel them. They don’t hurt because of the few pain-sensing nerves found there. Bleeding may be the only sign of them.

    EXTERNAL HEMORRHOIDS

    They are under the skin around the anus. The pains of external hemorrhoids can be felt because there are much more pain-sensing nerves around the area. A blood clot can form in external hemorrhoids known as thrombosis, which is purple or blue in color. It can hurt, itch and as well bleed. When the clot dissolves you may still have a bit of skin left over which could get irritated.

    CAUSES OF HEMORRHOIDS

    1. Genetics

    Some people inherit a tendency to develop hemorrhoids if other family members like their parent had them.

    2. Obesity

    A build up of pressure in one's lower rectum can affect blood flow and make the veins there swell, as a result of the extra weight thereby leading to hemorrhoids.

    3. Pregnancy

    During pregnancy, many pregnant women develop hemorrhoids while pregnant, especially during the third trimester. This may occur if the woman is always constipated, strains during a bowel movement, the strain of excess weight i.e the growing baby can increase the pressure on the veins in the lower body which can lead to hemorrhoids, also the pressure of sitting or standing for long period of time.

    4. Straining

    Hemorrhoids occur when straining this puts pressure which causes the veins in your rectum to swell and enlarge; sometimes hemorrhoids prolapsed or get bigger and bulge outside the anal sphincter, which is easily seen as moist bumps pinker than the surrounding area, and hurts often when one poops. A prolapsed hemorrhoid usually goes back inside on its own, or you can gently push them back into place.

    5. Hemorrhoids can also occur when chronic diarrhea or constipation doesn't clear off, coughing/sneezing could even make them worse.

    Other common causes are

    1. Straining when doing hard work like lifting something heavy.

    2. Standing or sitting for too long.

    3. Aging

    What can you do to manage Hemorrhoids?

    To an extent you can help prevent hemorrhoids by making simple lifestyle changes that keep you from getting constipation:

    1. Drink plenty of liquids.

    • Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water each day. (Not easy, but try). You can also drink one to two glasses of fruit juices, such as prune juice.

    2. Eat foods high in fiber.

    • Try and eat raw fresh fruits, vegetables, bran cereals and other sources of fiber.
    • If you are also suffering from increased gas, start eating foods that are high in fiber.
    • Wheat bran is a good fiber supplement. It causes less gas than other fiber-rich foods. ( You can find this in your cereal)

    3. Exercise regularly.

    • Please, be sure to check with your health provider before embarking on any form of exercise. Walking and engaging in other safe activities for at least 2 1/2 hours CAN help. Doing aerobic exercise every week can help the digestive system do its work. This means that most pregnant women should try to get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise on most, if not all, days.
    • Always be sure to find out from your health care provider what exercises are safe for you and how long you can maintain your exercise program.

    4. When you have a bowel movement, go.

    • Always go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge.
    • When you delay, it becomes harder to pass stool, and this can mess you up!

    5. Don’t gain too much weight.

    • Gain a sensible amount of weight, according to your review and assessment.
    • Stay within the guidelines your health care provider sets, be healthy, excess pounds put extra pressure on your abdomen. This increases your chances of getting hemorrhoids.

    6. Avoid long periods of standing or sitting.

    • If you must sit for long periods, get up and move around for a few minutes every hour or so.
    • When lying down, lie on your left side to help take the pressure off the major vessels.

    Remedies for Hemorrhoids

    The good news is, most hemorrhoids improve on their own, you can do several things to help you relieve the pain, swelling and itching of hemorrhoids:

    1. Soak your rectal/ anal area in warm water for 10 to 20 minutes at a time for several times a day. (PLEASE, REMEMBER WARM, LUKEWARM FRIENDLY WATER, NOT HOT BOILING WATER).
    2. At most drug stores, you can get a sit bath that you can use for this. A sit bath is a small basin that fits over the seat of the toilet.
    3. Ask your health care provider about which over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams are safe to use. (There are a whole lot out there).
    4. Use unscented, white brands of toilet paper. Some women find it helpful to wipe the anal area with a moist towel, wet toilet paper, or medicated pads instead of toilet paper. That’s ok too!
    5. Keep the anal area clean. Soap isn't necessary and may aggravate the problem.
    6. Be careful to gently dry the area after bathing, since moisture can cause irritation.
    7. Apply ice packs or cold compresses for 10 minutes up to four times a day.
    8. If hemorrhoid begins to stick out, gently push it back into the rectal canal, with a clean washed hand.

    When to talk to your health care provider

    Most hemorrhoids go away on their own but, when you have done all the above mentioned, and it still gives your severe discomfort. You will require a medical procedure. Talk to your health care provider if:

    • You don't get relief using the suggestions above
    • You notice bleeding.

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