Did you know that hemorrhoids are something people are all born with? Many people don’t realize this, but you typically only start noticing them when they cause problems. Alex Ky, M.D., a proctologist and professor of surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, explains that hemorrhoids are a mixture of arteries and veins that help cushion your anal canal during bowel movements. So next time you experience problems with hemorrhoids, remember that they’re just doing their job!
But hemorrhoids, also known as piles, can be incredibly annoying. They’re one of the most common health conditions, yet people are often reluctant to talk about them. However, nearly three out of four adults experience hemorrhoids at some point in their lives. So how do you get rid of them?
No one likes to talk about hemorrhoids, but they’re a fact of life for many people. hemorrhoids can bulge or swell due to pressure from straining, extended sitting time on the toilet, chronic diarrhea or constipation, or heavy lifting.
Your risk of having them goes up if you’re pregnant thanks to the extra weight of your baby and as you age since the tissues that support the veins around your anus can become weaker over time. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to ease the discomfort and prevent hemorrhoids from getting worse.
Hemorrhoids can be classified as either external or internal, depending on their location. Internal hemorrhoids are located inside the anus and are generally painless, but can cause bleeding during bowel movements.
External hemorrhoids are the ones that hurt so much. They happen when hemorrhoids are pushed just outside of the anal opening and then they swell up and bleed. If blood pools and forms a clot down there, you can experience even more severe pain—and it may feel like a hard marble or solid grape, according to Dr. Bernstein.
Increase Fiber Intake
If you are not getting enough fiber in your diet, it can lead to constipation and other digestive issues. Adding more high-fiber foods like beans, broccoli, whole grains, and fresh fruit can help you stay regular and reduce the chances of straining and further irritating your hemorrhoids.
Fiber is important for maintaining a healthy digestive system, and most people should aim for 20-30 grams per day. If you find it difficult to get enough fiber from food alone, you can take a supplement that contains psyllium or methylcellulose. These substances can help you reach your daily fiber goal without making you overly full or gassy.
Light to Moderate Exercise
While some exercises like weightlifting, squats, and lunges can cause or worsen painful hemorrhoids due to straining, others may help relieve your symptoms and reduce your chances of having future flare-ups.
According to Dr. Thomas, physical exercise can help with regular bowel movements and keep pressure off of your hemorrhoids. So, try incorporating some gentle exercises into your daily routine to help ease your symptoms. Some helpful exercises include swimming, or yoga.
Although you might not feel like working out today, try getting some exercise by going for a walk or doing some stretches. It’s also important to take breaks throughout the day if you have a sedentary job, as sitting or standing for long periods of time can increase pressure on your veins and irritate hemorrhoids.
Rubber Band Ligation
If you’re experiencing bleeding or recurrent hemorrhoids, there’s a minimally-invasive treatment that may help. It’s called rubber band ligation, and it’s one of Dr. Ky’s favorite procedures. There’s typically no need for anesthesia with this procedure.
Your doctor will simply wrap a tiny rubber band around the base of the hemorrhoid. This cuts off circulation to the hemorrhoid, causing it to shrivel up, shrink, and fall off. This usually happens within a week. Complications are rare, but you may feel a little pain or tightness afterward. Needless to say, it’s best to leave the rubber band ligation to your doctor – never try it at home!
If you’ve tried everything but your hemorrhoids are still causing you grief, it might be time to consider surgery. Hemorrhoidectomy is a very effective way of getting rid of hemorrhoids, but the recovery process can be quite painful, as Dr. Bernstein explains. However, it might be worth considering if you want to get rid of your hemorrhoids for good.
Another surgical option for hemorrhoids is called a hemorrhoidectomy. This procedure is less painful than other options, but it does come with a greater risk of relapse and is not recommended if you have anal sex, as staples can cause injury.
Hemorrhoids can be a real pain, but luckily, they usually go away within a week. If your symptoms haven’t gone away after a week of at-home care or if you’re experiencing severe pain and bleeding, see a doctor right away.
There is no one size fits all strategy when it comes to curing hemorrhoids. It is best to consider the severity of your situation and don’t hesitate to seek professional medical help.