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Diseases & Conditions

Hemorrhoids

HemorrhoidsCausesMedicationsPreventionRisk FactorsSymptomsTreatmentTypes

What is Hemorrhoids?

The vascular structures that control the passage of stool in the anal canal are called hemorrhoids. Any swelling because of various reasons or inflammation can become pathological and require treatment in different ways.

Causes of Hemorrhoids

While obesity and sitting in a place for extended periods of time are accepted reasons for hemorrhoids, the most common causes of this disorder are irregular bowel habits – constipation or diarrhea. Insignificant body exercise and a low-fiber diet could also be causative agents of hemorrhoids. Increased intra-abdominal pressure occurring due to pregnancy, absence of valves within the hemorrhoidal veins and gastric gland failure could also lead to hemorrhoids. Further, hemorrhoids could also be caused as the person ages.

Medication for Hemorrhoids

Local anesthetics like Medicone, Benzyl Alcohol, Pramoxine and Tetracaine are required to alleviate the pain and burning sensation of the rectum. Vasoconstrictors are used to constrict the blood vessels and reduce swelling. Epinephrine, Rectaine and Phenylephrine are commonly used drugs for hemorrhoids. Protectants are drugs that form a physical barrier around the peri-anal area and prevent irritation and pain. Starch, mineral oil, cocoa butter, Kaolin and Lanolin can be used for this purpose. Astringents can also be used for the same purpose and they cause coagulation of proteins in the cells. Calamine and zinc oxide are common examples of astringents used for hemorrhoids. Antiseptics have to be used to prevent infection, and keratolytics allow the medication to penetrate into tissues.

Surgery is usually done as last option when hemorrhoids affect the lifestyle of the person or have become too painful with uncontrolled bleeding or pus in anus. Any and all medical professionals should and would suggest surgery only if the other methods of treatment have failed completely or have not been effective in reducing the severity of the problem.

Non steroidal drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen can help with reducing the swelling in the affected regions.

Prevention of Hemorrhoids

Increasing the fiber content of the diet and large quantities of water are the best ways of preventing hemorrhoids as they soften the stools and the person does not have to strain too much to pass stools. Emptying bowels as soon as the need arises and not putting too much pressure on the anal region will certainly keep hemorrhoids from getting inflamed. A person has to avoid sitting in the toilet for long periods of time to prevent hemorrhoids from experiencing too much pressure and causing problems.

Risk Factors of Hemorrhoids

The common risk factors are listed below.

  • Constant sitting for long periods of time
  • Straining bowel movements due to constipation or hard stools
  • Pregnancy and Childbirth
  • Heavy lifting
  • Genetics and heredity
  • Colon malignancy
  • Hepatic disease
  • Obesity
  • Elevated anal resting pressure
  • Loss of rectal muscle tone
  • Rectal surgery
  • Anal intercourse
  • Faulty bowel function due to overuse of laxatives or enemas

Symptoms of Hemorrhoids

This disorder is usually accompanied by itching, rectal pain which could also lead to rectal bleeding in some cases. It is easier to diagnose external hemorrhoids due to its painful nature; internal hemorrhoids will surface only when they are thrombosed or necrotic. The prime indicator of this condition is bright red blood covering the stool which may materialize in a more subtle way on the toilet paper or in the bowl. This condition called hematochezia results in hemorrhoids. In most cases, the anus has a painful and red swelling around it making it more painful while defecating.

Treatment for Hemorrhoids

There are various non-surgical procedures that are used for treating hemorrhoids by means of scarring and shrinking the hemorrhoidal cushions. Some of them are Sclerotherapy, Rubber band litigation, Heat and Laser coagulation, and Infrared Photocoagulation. Extreme cases of hemorrhoids require surgical procedures; these are cases which have been left untreated for a long period of time. Dilation, Doppler Litigation, Sphincterotomy and Hemorrhoidectomy are the most common surgical procedures employed to treat hemorrhoids.

Types of Hemorrhoids

The two different types of hemorrhoids are internal and external hemorrhoids. External hemorrhoids occur outside the anal verge of the canal as varicosities of the veins of the inferior rectal arteries while internal hemorrhoids occur inside the rectum as varicosities of the veins of the superior rectal arteries. External hemorrhoids can evolve into a more painful state called thrombosed hemorrhoid if a vein ruptures with a blood clot. Interior hemorrhoids can take the shape of prolapsed and strangulated hemorrhoids; the former is a form that is pushed out of the anus due to vein distension while the latter is caused if the blood supply to the region is cut off.