Hemorrhoids can be an uncomfortable and embarrassing condition. Many patients may even avoid medical treatment out of self-consciousness. However, the problem is quite common, affecting up to 10 million Americans each year, and nothing to be embarrassed about. Still, if you fear you have hemorrhoids, you likely have questions you would prefer to ask from the privacy of your own home. Below are some of the more common hemorrhoid-related questions and the answers you need to know.
What Causes Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids occur when clusters of veins in the anus or rectum become swollen and inflamed due to pressure. Common sources of this pressure include, pregnancy, obesity, straining during bowel movement or sitting on the toilet for prolonged periods of time.
What are the Symptoms of Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids can lead to a number of bothersome symptoms depending on their type and location. Internal hemorrhoids located inside the rectum are often painless and asymptomatic. However, irritation to these during bowel movements may lead to bleeding.
External hemorrhoids are those located around the anus. These hemorrhoids can easily become irritated and may itch or bleed as a result. They can also become thrombosed when blood pools and clots. This can lead to severe pain, swelling, and hardening of the area.
How are Hemorrhoids Treated?
Most hemorrhoids can be effectively treated with at-home remedies and over-the-counter medicines. Medicated ointments or pads are useful to bring relief from the itching and irritation of external hemorrhoids. Additionally, warm baths, ice packs, and oral pain relievers can all help control symptoms.
In the case of persistent hemorrhoids, medical treatment from a specialist such as a gastroenterologist may be needed. Commonly, a procedure known as hemorrhoid banding, or rubber band ligation, is used to remove the problematic hemorrhoids entirely. During the procedure, tiny rubber bands are placed around the hemorrhoid, blocking circulation and eventually causing the growth to die and fall off within a matter of days.
If you are suffering from hemorrhoids and associated symptoms, a gastroenterologist can help bring relief. Whether through recommendations for home remedies, prescription medications, hemorrhoid banding, or other specialized procedures, a gastroenterology physician is skilled in the identification and treatment of this often embarrassing condition.