Hemorrhoids: Causes, Types, Symptoms and Treatment

Hemorrhoids are a common yet often misunderstood condition that affects millions of people in the world. Despite their prevalence, many individuals feel embarrassed to discuss their symptoms or seek treatment. In this blog post, we aim to shed light on hemorrhoids, their causes, symptoms, and available treatment options to empower individuals with knowledge and encourage open dialogue about this often uncomfortable topic.

What are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swollen veins in the lower rectum & anus. They can occur internally or externally, causing discomfort, pain, and sometimes bleeding during bowel movements. While anyone can develop hemorrhoids, certain factors increase the risk, including age, pregnancy, chronic constipation or diarrhea, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle.

Causes of Hemorrhoids

Certainly, let’s delve deeper into the causes of hemorrhoid. Hemorrhoid develops when the veins in the rectal & anal area become swollen & inflamed. While the exact cause of hemorrhoids isn’t always clear, several factors can contribute to their development. Here are some common causes:

Straining During Bowel Movements: One of the primary causes of hemorrhoid is straining during bowel movements. This often occurs due to constipation or diarrhea, which can result from a lack of dietary fiber, dehydration, or certain medical conditions. Straining increases pressure on the veins in the rectal area, leading to swelling and inflammation.

Prolonged Sitting or Standing: Remaining in a seated or standing position for extended periods can put pressure on the veins in the rectal area, contributing to the development of hemorrhoid. People with occupations that involve prolonged sitting or standing, such as office workers, truck drivers, or flight attendants, may be at a higher risk.

Obesity: Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of developing hemorrhoids. Excess weight puts added pressure on the abdomen and pelvic area, which can lead to increased pressure on the veins in the rectal region.

Pregnancy and Childbirth:

Hemorrhoids are common during pregnancy due to hormonal changes, increased pressure on the abdomen from the growing uterus, and constipation. Additionally, the act of pushing during childbirth can further strain the veins in the rectal area, leading to hemorrhoid.

Aging: As people age, the tissues supporting the veins in the rectum and anus may weaken, making them more susceptible to swelling and inflammation. This age-related weakening of tissues can contribute to the development of hemorrhoid in older adults.

Genetics: Several individuals may have a genetic predisposition to developing hemorrhoids. If a close family member, such as a parent or sibling, has a history of hemorrhoids, you may be at a higher risk of experiencing them yourself.

Chronic Constipation or Diarrhea: Chronic constipation or diarrhea can irritate the rectal and anal area, leading to straining during bowel movements and increased pressure on the veins. Addressing underlying digestive issues can help reduce the risk of developing hemorrhoid.

Heavy Lifting: Engaging in heavy lifting or strenuous physical activities can also contribute to the development of hemorrhoids. The increased intra-abdominal pressure during lifting can strain the veins in the rectal area, leading to swelling and inflammation.

Types of Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, can be classified into two main types based on their location and whether they protrude outside the anus:

Internal Hemorrhoids:

Internal hemorrhoids develop inside the rectum, above the dentate line, which is a boundary between the rectum’s upper and lower sections. These hemorrhoids are typically painless because the rectum lacks pain receptors above the dentate line.

Symptoms of internal hemorrhoids may include rectal bleeding (bright red blood on toilet paper or in the toilet bowl), anal itching, and discomfort. If internal hemorrhoid prolapse (protrude) through the anal opening, they may cause pain and irritation.

Internal hemorrhoids are graded based on their severity:

  • Grade I: Internal hemorrhoids that bleed and do not prolapse.
  • Grade II: Hemorrhoids that prolapse during bowel movements and retract spontaneously.
  • Grade III: Hemorrhoids that prolapse during bowel movements & require manual reduction (pushing them back in).
  • Grade IV: Hemorrhoids that are prolapsed & cannot be pushed back in, often requiring medical intervention.

External Hemorrhoids:

External hemorrhoids develop under the skin around the anus, below the dentate line, where there are pain receptors. These hemorrhoids can cause significant discomfort and pain.

Symptoms of external hemorrhoids may include anal itching, pain or discomfort, swelling or a lump near the anus, and bleeding.

External hemorrhoid can develop blood clots (thrombosed hemorrhoids), causing severe pain, swelling, and inflammation.

Additionally, hemorrhoid can be further classified based on their characteristics and underlying causes, such as:

Thrombosed Hemorrhoid: These occur when blood clots form within external hemorrhoids, causing severe pain and swelling.

Prolapsed Hemorrhoid: Internal hemorrhoid that protrude outside the anal opening are referred to as prolapsed hemorrhoids.

Mixed Hemorrhoid: Some individuals may have a combination of internal and external hemorrhoid, referred to as mixed hemorrhoid.

Understanding the type and severity of hemorrhoid is essential for determining the appropriate treatment approach. It’s recommended to consult a healthcare professional for accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment recommendations.

Symptoms of Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swollen veins in the lower rectum & anus. The symptoms can vary depending on the type of hemorrhoid and its severity. Common symptoms of hemorrhoid include:

Rectal Bleeding: Bright red blood on toilet paper, in the toilet bowl, or on stools is a common symptom of The blood may be seen after wiping, during bowel movements, or coating the stool.

Anal Itching: Irritation and itching around the anus are common with hemorrhoids. This can be caused by the mucus secretion from the swollen veins.

Pain or Discomfort: Hemorrhoid can cause pain or discomfort, especially during bowel movements or when sitting for long periods. External hemorrhoids, which form under the skin around the anus, can be particularly painful.

Swelling or Lump Around the Anus: External hemorrhoids can cause a visible lump or swelling around the anus. This lump may be sensitive or painful to the touch.

Discomfort During Bowel Movements: Straining during bowel movements, due to constipation or hard stools, can worsen hemorrhoid symptoms and cause pain or discomfort.

Anal Leakage: Excessive mucus discharge or leakage from the anus can occur with hemorrhoids, particularly internal hemorrhoids.

Incomplete Bowel Movements:

Hemorrhoids can cause a feeling of incomplete evacuation after a bowel movement, leading to a constant urge to pass stools.

Prolapse: In severe cases, internal hemorrhoid may protrude outside the anus, especially during bowel movements. This is known as prolapsed hemorrhoid.

It’s essential to consult a healthcare professional if you experience symptoms of hemorrhoids, as they can sometimes be indicative of other more serious conditions. Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the hemorrhoid & may include lifestyle changes, over-the-counter medications, minimally invasive procedures, or surgery in some cases.

Thrombosed Hemorrhoid: This type of hemorrhoid occurs when blood pools in an external hemorrhoid and forms a clot. Thrombosed hemorrhoid can cause severe pain, swelling & inflammation. They may appear as a hard lump near the anus and often require medical intervention for relief.

Treatment of hemorrhoids

Treatment for hemorrhoid depends on the severity of symptoms and the type of hemorrhoids (internal or external). Here are some common treatment options:

Lifestyle and Dietary Changes:

Increasing fiber intake: Consuming more fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, can help soften stools and make them easier to pass, reducing strain during bowel movements.

Drinking plenty of fluids: Staying hydrated help prevent constipation, which can worsen hemorrhoid symptoms.

Avoiding straining: Straining during bowel movements can exacerbate hemorrhoid, so it’s essential to avoid pushing too hard.

Avoiding prolonged sitting: Sitting for long periods can increase pressure on the veins in the anus and exacerbate hemorrhoid symptoms. Taking breaks and avoiding prolonged sitting can help relieve discomfort.

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medications:

Topical creams, ointments, or suppositories containing hydrocortisone, witch hazel, or other soothing ingredients can help reduce itching, inflammation, and discomfort associated with hemorrhoids.

Oral pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, may help alleviate pain and discomfort.

Warm Baths (Sitz Baths):

Soaking the anal area in warm water for 12 to 20 minutes several times a day can help relieve pain, itching, & inflammation. Adding Epsom salts or baking soda to the bathwater may provide additional relief.

Medical Procedures:

Rubber band ligation: This procedure involves placing a rubber band around the base of the hemorrhoid to cut off its blood supply, causing it to shrink and fall off within a few days.

Infrared coagulation: Heat is used to coagulate the blood vessels supplying the hemorrhoid, causing it to shrink and recede.

Hemorrhoidectomy: In severe cases or when other treatments fail, surgical removal of hemorrhoid may be necessary. This procedure is usually reserved for large external hemorrhoids or internal hemorrhoid that do not respond to other treatments.

Minimally Invasive Procedures:

Stapled hemorrhoidopexy (hemorrhoid stapling): This procedure involves using a special stapling device to remove excess tissue and reposition the remaining hemorrhoidal tissue back into its normal position.

Laser or infrared photocoagulation: Heat from a laser or infrared light is used to shrink and harden hemorrhoidal tissue.

 

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