Hemorrhoids are swollen and enlarged veins in the anal area. Hemorrhoids are caused by increased pressure in the veins in the pelvic and rectal area (the veins can get swollen and enlarged and result in a hemorrhoid). Hemorrhoids can be internal or external. They are not always painful. Sometimes, people are unaware they have hemorrhoids, especially the internal ones. External hemorrhoids tend to be more painful. A person can have both internal and external hemorrhoids at the same time. Both types of hemorrhoids can range in size from very small and barely noticed to quite large and uncomfortable. The most common signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids are blood on the toilet paper, itching and/or pain in the rectal area, especially when cleaning the anal area, and a feeling of discomfort or pain with bowel movements. Hemorrhoids are quite common in women during pregnancy. The other common cause of hemorrhoids is straining during bowel movements, usually because of constipation.
How to prevent the occurrence of hemorrhoids ?
- Drink plenty of water can prevent dehydration and constipation, drink enough fluid can reduce dry feces and make it easier to pass the stool. You can take stool softener as well, if you suffer from constipation.
- Eat lots of high-fiber foods. This includes whole grains like brown rice, flax and bran, fruits with the skin such as apples and plums, and vegetables such as leafy greens. Avoid eating too much animal fat or trans fat. Eat food rich in vitamin E, vitamin C and omega-3 essential fatty acids.
- When you are in the bathroom, leave yourself the time! Go to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge and relax (try not to strain to pass the stools).
- Other dietary changes can help prevent hemorrhoids. Lower the acid pH of your stools by avoiding: soft drinks, citrus fruits and juices, beer and wine, caffeine (especially coffee).
- Elevate your knees when sitting on the toilet : this mimics the squatting posture that was used for thousands of years before the invention of the toilet! The theory is that it makes bowel movements easier.
- Exercise. People that exercise regularly, seldom to develop hemorrhoids. Walking, running, yoga and other light exercise can help to prevent hemorrhoids.
How to treat hemorrhoids at home ?
If you find you have a hemorrhoid or hemorrhoids (its more common to have one, buy you can have more than one at the same time), there are a few home remedies you can use.
- You can use over the counter medication to stop the pain and shrink the swollen tissue. Hemorrhoidal cream or ointment can relieve external discomfort, protect irritated tissue, and sooth burning and itching sensation. You can use it at night or after each bowel movement, by applying the cream topically to the affected area. Read and follow the direction on the medication tube or box.
- Use plain white toilet paper that is slightly moistened with warm water to gently clean the area. Blot with the toilet paper, don’t wipe, as that will further irritate the tissues. You can also clean off in the shower or by using a bidet. Avoid soaps or the pre-moistened towelettes because most soaps and towelettes will irritate.
- Alternate hot and cold treatments in the area (use an ice pack for 5 minutes then a warm pack for about 10 minutes, and then the ice pack again (5 minutes). Repeat this at least a few times a day.).
- Wear cotton undergarments and keep the area dry (after any of the treatments using water, make sure that you gently but completely dry the anal area).
- You can use ointments that contain vitamins A, D and E to help heal the area.
- Herbal treatments. There are a number of different herbs that have been traditionally used to alleviate the swelling, itching and discomfort of hemorrhoids. The most common herbs used in the treatment of hemorrhoids are: Aesculus hippocastanum (horse chestnut), Ulmus fulva (slippery elm), Hammamelis virginiana (witch hazel), Quercus alba (white oak bark), Ruscus aculeatus (butcher’s broom), Melilotus officinalis (sweet clover). Horse chestnut has been traditionally used as a tonic for the veins : it strengthens the walls of the veins and makes them resistant to the swelling that makes a hemorrhoid. It is also an anti-inflammatory and as astringent and can help to reduce the hemorrhoids as well as pain and discomfort.