Hemorrhoids, commonly known as piles refer to a condition in which the veins around the anus or rectum become swollen and inflamed. Many people suffer from hemorrhoids at some point in their life. Hemorrhoids are more common in individuals aged between 45 and 65 years and in pregnant women. External hemorrhoids occur on the skin around the anus whereas internal hemorrhoids develop in the rectum. Internal hemorrhoids tend to protrude out through the anus.
Factors causing hemorrhoids include:
Internal hemorrhoids: The most common symptom is passage of bright red blood with the stools. If the hemorrhoids have prolapsed, it causes pain, discomfort and itching around the anus.
External hemorrhoids: Blood clots may form in the swollen veins causing bleeding, painful swelling or a hard lump.
Your doctor will perform a physical examination which involves a digital rectal exam with a gloved, lubricated finger and an anoscope. Additional diagnostic tests may be ordered to rule out other causes of bleeding.
Lifestyle modifications and dietary changes are often helpful in reducing the symptoms of hemorrhoids. A diet high in fiber softens the stools and helps them pass easily which avoids straining. Fruits, vegetables and cereals serve as a good source of dietary fibers. Fiber supplements such as methylcellulose or stool softeners can be taken. Drinking plenty of water and adequate exercise helps prevent constipation. Over-the-counter creams and suppositories help relieve the pain and itching. However, these are short term remedies as long-term use can cause damage to the skin.
Outpatient treatments are provided for internal hemorrhoids and include the following: