If you suffer or have suffered from hemorrhoids at some point in your life, you know only too well that answering the call of nature comfortably is a privilege many take for granted. Even among patients with hemorrhoids, the degree of suffering is different depending on the severity of the condition.
Read through this piece to acquaint yourself with the various stages of hemorrhoids, specifically external hemorrhoids, and what you can do to get rid of them.
External Hemorrhoids Causes
External hemorrhoids are hemorrhoids that form on the skin of the anus. The other main type of hemorrhoids is internal hemorrhoids which are located on the lower side of the rectum. Both types of hemorrhoids develop when the veins in the rectum and anus are subjected to so much pressure that they distend with blood. This can be due to many reasons including:
Excess Body Weight
Being overweight or obese is a source of many health problems including hemorrhoids. The excess weight strains the blood vessels in the anus so they may end up swelling with blood.
A fetus gets heavier and heavier as the due date draws nearer so the blood vessels on the mother’s anal region are put under a lot of pressure. Additionally, the imbalance of hormones contributes to the abnormal swelling of blood vessels. Therefore, hemorrhoids are very common among pregnant women.
Vaginal delivery is a strenuous process that not only causes injury to the birth canal but may also strain the anal muscles so much that hemorrhoids develop soon after childbirth.
Constipation and Diarrhea
Constipation makes you strain while passing stool and this greatly stresses the blood vessels in the anus. Likewise, passing stool too frequently because of diarrhea also strains the anal blood vessels.
Sitting for Too Long
When you sit for too long, either in the office or toilet, it stretches the anal muscles so the blood vessels in them bulge and swell.
External Hemorrhoid Stages
The severity of hemorrhoids is diagnosed in relation to whether internal hemorrhoids have prolapsed (protruded) out of the anus or not. The following are the 4 different stages of hemorrhoids:
- 1st-degree hemorrhoids – In this stage, the hemorrhoids bleed but have not prolapsed. However, they are enlarged and have bulged into the anal canal
- 2nd-degree hemorrhoids – The hemorrhoids protrude out of the anus when straining during bowel movements but immediately retract into the anal canal once the straining is done
- 3rd-degree hemorrhoids – The hemorrhoids prolapse during straining but don’t retract on their own. They have to be pushed back inside using a finger
- 4th-degree hemorrhoids – Here, prolapsed hemorrhoids cannot be pushed back into the anal canal. This type of hemorrhoids can even push a good part of the rectum’s lining out of the anus and may also develop blood clots (thrombosed hemorrhoids).
What are the Symptoms?
The symptoms of external hemorrhoids are as follows:
- Pain around the anus, especially during and after bowel movements
- You’ll feel hard lumps around the anus as you wipe
- Blood in the stool and toilet after bowel movements
- An itchy or irritated sensation around the anus
What are the Treatment Options?
There are many hemorrhoids treatment methods you can choose from as outlined below:
Hemorrhoid creams are made with witch hazel or hydrocortisone as ingredients since they are anti-inflammatory. Applying them reduces pain, inflammation, and irritation.
A cold compress is made by wrapping ice in a towel or cloth. It’s then pressed on the hemorrhoids to reduce the pain, irritation, and swelling because ice constricts blood vessels.
Soaking your anus in a warm water bath will improve circulation and so the swelling, pain, and itchiness will reduce. You can add warm Epsom salts to the water to increase the effectiveness of the remedy.
Tea leaves have tannic acid which is an anti-inflammatory compound. Put the tea bag in warm water and then place it on the hemorrhoids. It will help in reducing the swelling, pain, itchiness.
How Long Do External Hemorrhoids Last?
There’s no fixed time that hemorrhoids last; the durations are varied depending on their sizes and individuals. Small hemorrhoids can clear within a few days without treatment. Large hemorrhoids, on the other hand, can take a few weeks to clear up. For some people, hemorrhoids recur regularly so they have to keep treating them.
How to Prevent External Hemorrhoids
You can take the following measures to avoid getting hemorrhoids:
Hydrate and Eat More Fiber
Water dissolves soluble fiber to make a substance that makes stool softer. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to the stool to make it easier to pass out of the anus. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases also recommends that you take fiber supplements or stool softeners to make bowel movements less strenuous.
Exercising regularly speeds up the movement of food down the digestive tract. Stool, therefore, doesn’t have time to harden and become difficult to pass. Exercising will also help you lose excess weight which adds to the pressure on the anus’ blood vessels.
Go to the Toilet Immediately
Delaying moving bowels makes stool harden so passing it will be strenuous. Go to the toilet as soon as you feel the urge and avoid sitting on the toilet for too long to prevent hemorrhoids.
As soon as you realize that you have hemorrhoids, start any of the recommended home remedies above to prevent them from getting too serious. The prevention tips will also keep you from aggravating an already bad situation. If you stay faithful to these regimens, you won’t have to worry about discomfort while passing stool or sitting.