Treatment Of Hemorrhoids
Time To Get Rid Of Those Nasty Little Piles....
“Hemorrhoids are the pain of straining” I was once told.
Sadly, Hemorrhoids are much more complex than that, but the treatment for piles doesn’t need to be. Using our suggested 25 treatments of hemorrhoids, they can quickly be a thing of the past.
What Are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids (also known as Haemorrhoids or Piles) are basically swollen blood vessels around or inside the entrance to your bum (or anus, again depending on which term you prefer). Hemorrhoids are caused by increased blood pressure in the veins around the anus. This increased pressure causes them to expand forming bulges of skin that become itchy and painful.
What Are The Symptoms For Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids aren’t always painful – sometimes they can exist completely undetected but at other times they can be complete agony. Typical symptoms will include –
- An itchy bum
- Bleeding when you do a poo (pass a stool). The blood is normally fresh (ie bright red)
- A mucus discharging after going to the loo
- Pain and Discomfort
- A very sore and red bum
- Often you’ll have a lump hanging outside of your bum that may need to be pushed back in after surgery.
- A Feeling that the bowel is still not empty, even after going to the loo and passing a stool.
- Skin that seems to fold outwards when you go to poo, but recoils afterwards (third degree piles)
What Causes Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids occur when the bloodflow in the veins around your anus increase. There are however many reasons why this might occur. These include –
1. Diarrhoea. The force exerted during prolonged periods of diarrhoea can dramatically increase the blood flow around your anus and this is a very common reason for hemorrhoids becoming swollen, painful and therefore detected. Very often it’s not so much the release of the diarrhoea, but the straining at the end that causes the hemorrhoids.
2. Constipation. Again the impact of straining to pass your poo causes the most fearsome hemorrhoids. Sometimes there are clear answers that lie in the reason for the constipation. In other words, treat the constipation (perhaps more fibre in your diet), treat the hemorrhoids.
3. Pregnancy. Being pregnant alters your whole bodies balance and in this case, changes the pressure around your pelvic blood vessels making them enlarge. These enlarged blood vessels become inflamed and voila – you have hemorrhoids.
4. Obesity. A bit like being pregnant, if you weigh more there is more pressure on your bottom every time you sit down. Eventually this leads to increased bloodflow and again you have hemorrhoids.
5. Age. Unfortunately, it is a fact that as we get older, the tissues around our body including the tissue that makes up the veins that carry our blood gets weaker. As this happens, stretching is more likely to occur and one such place is the veins around our anus. As they stretch in little pockets, so they become inflamed and we’ve developed hemorrhoids.
6. Heavy Lifting. We’ve all seen the ‘strong man’ contests when they pick up huge concrete balls and carry them long distance right? Well their faces are normally bright red with the strain. Thankfully, we cant see their bottoms, but if we could……they’d be straining just the same and that is a perfect cause of hemorrhoids
7. Sitting down for long periods of time. Similar to hospital patients that get ‘bed sores’ if they lie on one side for too long without moving, it is possible to get hemorrhoids from sitting too long without standing up to get the blood flowing.
8. Persistent vomiting or coughing. Again the sudden push of vomiting if done regularly enough or continual coughing if violent enough can cause hemorrhoids
9. Hereditary Piles. A link has been proven that connects sufferers of hemorrhoids to their offspring also suffering. So if you have children and you currently suffer with them – it may be time to look at preventative measures for your children to take.
When To See A Doctor With Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are not serious in the short term. Any one of a range of remedies suggested below should be enough to remove the pain and they will then just clear up on their own.
You should however, consult a doctor if you suffer rectal bleeding more than once or twice, just to rule out anything more serious such as tumors, blood clotting problems or inflammatory bowel disease. Similarly, if symptoms persist then it is worth going back as surgery may be a better option.
The doctor can carry out a simple physical examination to check for the presence of haemorrhoids and make a clear diagnosis from there.
On odd occasions, you may be asked to have a ‘Proctoscopy’ which is basically a small tube pushed in to your anus with a camera on to check inside your bottom up to your large intestine. It is painless (believe it or not) and can help when your piles are tucked away inside your anus.
Types Of Hemorrhoid.
After examining you, your doctor will be able to tell you exactly what type of pile or haemorrhoid you have. These could be split in to the following four degrees –
1. First degree. Small internal swellings that are not visible from outside
2. Second degree. Slightly larger swellings, these typically pop our of your bum when you pass a stool only to disappear back inside as soon as you are finished.
3. Third Degree. Swellings that hand down outside the anal passage looking like soft lumps. This tend to remain outside but can be physically pushed back in.
4. Forth degree. Large lumps or swellings that are protruding outside your anus and can not be pushed back inside, even with force.
Treatment Of Hemorrhoids (25 Different Options)
1. Over-the-counter creams.
There are a whole range of different topical creams that can be rubbed on your sore area to relieve the immediate swelling and discomfort.
Creams with ‘Pycnogenol’ have been clinically proven to be effective according to a 2010 study in which it significantly outperformed the group on placebo.
Like the creams, these are also readily available from most pharmacies. The difference is instead of being a cream that is rubbed in, a suppository is a tablet that is placed up inside your anus and works by dissolving there.
For both creams and suppositories, it is essential that you only try one at a time – or the combined effect may actually irritate the area that you are trying to heal even more.
They should also only be tried for a fairly short period of time – 5-7 days is normal, a fortnight is probably too long. They should have either worked and been stopped because your piles have disappeared or been stopped to try something else if they are not working. Piles should not be a long-term addition to your backside.
Be very careful if you going to try painkillers for your hemorrhoids. Something as simple as paracetamol can relieve the pain in the short-term, but many non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as Ibuprofen can cause significantly worse bleeding by thinning your blood.
Only relevant if your hemorrhoids are being caused by constipation, but will take effect much quicker than a change of diet. Just don’t stray far from a toilet!
5. Use baby wipes.
Rather than dry toilet paper use baby wipes to clean your bum. This causes less rubbing, less inflammation and less pain.
6. Tap the area clean after going to the loo.
Don’t wipe it as again the abrasion will only make them worse.
7. Try to avoid straining at all times.
Concentrate on relaxing on the toilet. Let any stools come out slowly through gravity rather than physically ejected through straining. The straining will only serve to make your haemorrhoids even larger.
If you have fourth degree hemorrhoids, then banding is an option for non-surgical removal. Basically, an extremely tight elastic band is wrapped around your hemorrhoid to cut off the blood supply.
Very similar to a treatment for skin tags, the hemorrhoid then dies and falls off within approx. a week. This type of procedure needs to be administered by a medical professional but doesn’t require anaesthetic and you can normally go home on the same day.
This is removal of your piles by injecting a solution into the blood vessels in your bottom. The intention is that the pain is instantly relieved with the long term outcome that the hemorrhoids will shrivel up over the next few weeks.
This procedure is also known as electrocoagulation. Basically, a proctoscope is used to find the hemorrhoids and then an electrical current is passed through them, just above the ‘dentate line’.
Electrotherapy has been proven to be a good treatment for small hemorrhoids, although evidence is mixed around it’s effectiveness for large hemorrhoids.
11. A Sitz Bath.
This is a special bath for the buttocks. The idea is that it is much more advanced than a bidet and you can soak your anus several times a day without all the time/ effort required in having three separate baths. Basically it sits over your toilet seat and can be filled with warm water for you to bath your bottom in.
Experts recommend doing this two to three times a day minimum, soaking your bum for approx. 20mins each time. Gently pat the area dry or use a hairdryer and you should notice the inflammation going down really soon.
The hot water is designed to relax your muscles and stimulate blood flow away from the piles.
12. Apply an ice pack at other intervals.
The effect of the cold is designed to stimulate healing in your bottom.
13. Don’t sit don’t for long periods.
Plan your days so that intervals of rest and followed by bursts of activity and so on.
14. Consider taking fibre supplements.
This will help to ensure you get plenty of fibre in your diet.
There are also a range of other supplements that you might consider adding to your diet to help heal your piles……
15. Witch Hazel.
Witch hazel is known for being great at healing damaged skin and for being an antioxidant. Applying to the skin has been found to have a great healing effect on hemorrhoids.
16. Butchers Broom.
Helps reduce inflammation of piles by increasing blood flow through and preventing the pooling that happens with hemorrhoids. A study in 2002 in Germany proved this link by testing ‘butchers broom’ in patients with venous insufficiency (lack of blood flow causing blood pooling)
17. Horse Chestnut.
Allegedly this improves vascular tone and capillary flow, essential to getting rid of hemorrhoids.
18. Cypress Oil.
It’s known properties include the contraction of blood vessels and its ability to tighten tissues – just the sort of action needed to get rid of a swollen hemorrhoid.
19. Helichrysum Essential Oil.
This stimulates the gastric juices that break down food and acts as an anti inflammatory agent.
20. A Potato Compress.
Yes you heard it right! A compress made from a grated potato can act as a soother for hemorrhoids due to the tuber. I don’t know if this applies to every variant of potato!
21. Aloe Vera Gel.
Back to basics again, aloe vera gel has been used for decades with admittedly some very mixed results, to control inflammation. The key is that you only use pure aloe vera gel, not a product with a part of aloe vera and parts of other substances in.
22. Wear loose cotton clothing.
This treats hemorrhoids by keeping the anus cool and dry – therefore allowing your piles to heal rather than get further irritated.
Surgical Treatment For Hemorrhoids
As with most ailments, if the home treatments do not prove successful, there is always the final option of surgery and this is no different. There are many different types of surgery, but the most popular ones can be summed up as….
During this hospital procedure, the last part of the large intestine (known as the anorectum) is stapled. This has two effects – in the event of hemorrhoids that have not prolapsed, it will make them less likely to do so, but is also cuts off the blood supply of all hemorrhoids, leading to them shrinking.
Stapling is no longer a favoured method however as, although it has a really short recovery time, it also carries a significantly higher risk of complications.
This is a much bigger operation often done under general anaesthetic, where a surgery will open your anus and surgically cut out all the hemorrhoids.
The pain after the operation will also be significant and will continue for some considerable time (several weeks in fact). On the positive side however, the chances of your hemorrhoids returning are smaller than they otherwise would be with any other treatment (approx. 1 in 20 according to NHS statistics).
25. Hemorrhoidal Artery Ligation.
This is done to reduce the blood flow to the arteries around your anus. This is again done under general anaesthetic allowing the consultant to use an ultrasound probe in your anus that highlights the blood vessels supplying blood to each hemorrhoid.
The surgeon can then stitch each artery shut so that it chokes off the blood supply to the hemorrhoids.
The National Institute For Health And Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK actively supports the use of artery ligation as a safe and effective treatment of hemorrhoids.
How To Prevent Hemorrhoids.
‘Prevention is always better than cure’ as the saying goes meaning it’s far easier to stop hemorrhoids by making various lifestyle changes, than it is to treat them once they’ve become really painful. Below, I’ve compiled a list of preventative measures that you might consider if you think you could be at risk of developing hemorrhoids or have developed them, but they are not currently painful and you want to reduce them over time –
- Eat more fibre. Vegetables, pasta (preferably wholewheat pasta) and fruit are prime examples. They are perfect for regulating your stools – meaning no more diarrhoea or constipation.
- Exercise regularly. Great for gut motility, reducing blood pressure and losing weight.
- Drink plenty of water. This will ensure you are not straining to pass hard stools.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Where possible, these are prime causative factors behind poor toilet control.
- Beware Painkillers. A number of painkillers will include constipation in their side effects. Those codeine are a prime example of this.
- Don’t Hold Of From Going To The Toilet. Never ignore the urge to go to the loo – no matter how comfortable and warm you are in bed at 4am! Get up and go or it will hurt more and take more pressure to go later on.
The Final Word –
Hemorrhoids (or haemorrhoids/ piles) are not always painful – but when they are, they can be absolute agony.
Thankfully our understanding of them is very good – both why they can appear and how to get rid of them. As with most problems, surgery is the last option, but it’s good to know that if nothing else works you can always have them removed with surgery.
Before that however, there are a whole range of options for the treatment of hemorrhoids – some that you can try that will relieve the pain and some that will get rid of your hemorrhoids altogether. Can you think of any others? If so, please add them in the comments below – if they are good ones we might ask you to write a guest post on them (paid for your time of course) so all our members can benefit…..
Frequently Asked Questions
For some people, hemorrhoids go on and on – this is particularly true the older you get. Smaller hemorrhoids will typically go away after just a few days of treatment at home. However other cases (typically 3rd and 4th degree hemorrhoids) will need to be forcibly removed if none of the home remedies will work.
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References Used –
1. Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Errichi B, Di Renzo A, Grossi MG, Ricci A, Dugall M, Cornelli U, Cacchio M, Rohdewald P. (March, 2010). Pycnogenol treatment of acute hemorrhoidal episodes. Phytotherapy Research
2. Vanscheidt W, Jost V, Wolna P, Lücker PW, Müller A, Theurer C, Patz B, Grützner KI. (2002) Efficacy and safety of a Butcher’s broom preparation (Ruscus aculeatus L. extract) compared to placebo in patients suffering from chronic venous insufficiency. Thieme.
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