Who Wants to Talk Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are extremely common, affecting most adults at least once in their lifetime. Also referred to as piles, hemorrhoids are varicose (weakened, swollen) veins located in the rectum or around the anus. Veins have an important job, they transport blood to our hearts – but they are delicate and those affected by hemorrhoids are fragile. Many women find that they develop hemorrhoids while they are pregnant or after delivery. But don’t worry–if you are one of the 10 million Americans who suffer from hemorrhoids, a few healthy habits can help ease your pain.
There are two types of hemorrhoids– internal and external, and the names easily identify their location. External hemorrhoids cause itching and pain. Internal hemorrhoids may be painless but can cause bright red blood to appear in the stool and after a bowel movement. If you experience rectal bleeding or discomfort, call your doctor. A simple exam can determine if you have hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids are caused by too much pressure on the veins in the pelvic and rectal area. Pregnancy, obesity, and frequent heavy lifting can put excess pressure on veins – therefore weakening them and increasing your chances of developing hemorrhoids. The straining caused by constipation and diarrhea can also stress your veins and predispose you to hemorrhoids. They can be hereditary and can also be caused by prolonged periods of standing or sitting.
Treating hemorrhoids at home
Home treatment is first recommended for hemorrhoids, but if you aren’t sure what’s going on any bleeding or pain should be evaluated just to make sure. After that, you can use over the counter ointments for itching and pain relief or you can talk to your doctor about a stronger prescription medication.
Regular exercise and a healthy diet can help clear up hemorrhoids for good. Eat, drink and be healthy by following these easy guidelines –sure, you’ve heard most of these before, but it’s just common sense folks.
• Drink more water and fluids – at least 8 glasses a day.
• Add fiber to your diet – both soluble and insoluble. Eat breakfast – it is an important and easy meal to fit in extra fiber. Soluble fiber helps to ease elimination, bulk up stool and stimulate the digestive track. It is found in apples, beans, carrots, and plums. Insoluble fiber promotes regularity and lessens straining during bowel movements. Great sources are salad greens, flaxseeds, prunes, and whole grains.
• Vitamin C fortifies and strengthens blood vessel walls – take a supplement and eat plenty of citrus fruits, kiwis, peppers and strawberries.
• Zinc can enhance the healing of hemorrhoids. It is available in supplement form and is also found in poultry, seeds, shellfish and wheat germ. (mmm…I love a good bowl of wheat germ, don’t you?)
Hemorrhoids may require further treatment. It is always best to check with your doctor first since rectal bleeding can also be a sign of anal, rectal or colon cancer. If you suspect you have hemorrhoids and you have just had a baby or are pregnant, call Dr. Hessel. You do not have to live with their discomfort. Dr. Hessel can help – schedule your appointment today.