Hemorrhoids, or swollen blood vessels in the rectum, are located in the lowest region of the rectum and the anus. These blood vessels swell and cause the vein walls to become thinly stretched. Passing bowel movements may irritate them.
The cause of hemorrhoids is unknown, however extreme abdominal pressure could potentially cause the veins in the rectum or anus to swell. Obesity, standing or sitting for long periods of time, pregnancy, coughing, vomiting, sneezing, straining on the toilet, liver disease, and holding your breath while doing strenuous physical activity could all create this pressure.
Half of the U.S. population will suffer from hemorrhoids in their lifetime, usually between the age of 20 and 50. However there are ways to reduce the risk of falling into that category. A diet high in fiber could lessen your chances of getting hemorrhoids greatly. However a person who eats a lot of processed food runs a very high risk of developing hemorrhoids. Dehydration, which could cause constipation, will also highten the odds of you obtaining this condition. Constipation puts a lot of pressure on the blood veins in the rectum which could cause them to swell.
The two general categories in which hemorroids are classified include internal hemorrhoids and external hemorroids.
Internal hemorrhoids, which lie far enough inside the rectum they are not visible and you can not feel them, do not usually hurt. There are not many pain sensing nerves indside the rectum. Bleeding may be a sign of internal hemorrhoids. They may also enlarge and protrude outside of the anal sphincter, in which case you may be able to see or feel them. They would feel like moist pads of skin that are pink in color. Protruding hemorrhoids may hurt because these hemorrhoids lay within the anus. The anus has many pain sensing nerves. Protruding hemorrhoids will usually recede back into the rectum on their own, however if they do not, you can gently push them back into place.
External hemorrhoids, which lie inside of the anus, are usually painful and uncomfortable. External hemorrhoids may prolapse to the outside of the anus in the process of a bowel movement. When this happens you will be able to see and feel them. It is possible for blood clots to form within these hemorrhoids. This condition is called Thrombosis. Thrombosis is a very painful condition that can look blue or purple. The thrombosed hemorrhoids may also bleed. Although they may look very frightening, thrombosed hemorrhoids usually are not serious nor life threatening. They should heal themselves within about a week, however if they become to painful see your doctor. Your doctor can remove them during an office visit, which will relieve the pain.
There are medicines that will help to relieve the symptoms of hemorrhoids. Symptoms include inflammation, irritation, itching, redness, and bleeding. These non-prescription remedies include;
Ointments such as zinc oxide , petroleum jelly, bag balm, or diaper rash cream. These ointments protect and create a barrier over the hemorrhoids which can prevent further injury as well as help to heal and soothe existing conditions.
Ointments that contain 1% hydrocortisone. Hydrocortisone is a type of steroid that may relieve inflammation and itching. If you feel you need a higher dose of hydrocortisone, talk to your health care provider , they may prescribe 2.5% hydrocortisone. These products can thin the skin, therefore it is not recommended to use these products any longer than two weeks.
You may also choose to use suppositories, such as those created by Tucks or Preparation H. Suppositories help to relieve irritation and lubricate the anal canal during bowel movements. These products could potentially harm anal tissue if used more than 7 to 10 days.
Remember to always talk to your health care provider if you feel you may have hemorrhoids. Anal bleeding could be signs of other serious diseases such as colorectal cancer.