WHAT ARE HEMORRHOIDS AND HOW WE CAN APPLY SELF-HELP
Hemorrhoids are swollen and engorged blood vessels that are located in the lower rectum and the anus. There are two main types of hemorrhoids depending on where they are located. Internal hemorrhoids are located within the anus and rectum while external hemorrhoids are found outside the anus. Common symptoms associated with hemorrhoids include pain, itching, swelling, and bleeding during bowel movements.
Hemorrhoids are becoming a more and more common problem. A case in point is that an estimated 75% of Americans and 25% of British people will have hemorrhoids at some point in their lives. While the symptoms may be inconvenient, the hemorrhoids often vanish on their own after some weeks without requiring serious medical intervention. You don’t need to visit a doctor to get some quick relief or prevent the discomfort from getting worse. In fact, the best treatments for hemorrhoids are things you can do at home, and they can even prevent hemorrhoids from occurring in the first place. Here are some methods you can try out.
Natural self-help remedies for symptomatic relief
Hemorrhoids can become inflamed and cause some serious discomfort once in a while. This is particularly true for thrombosed external hemorrhoids which develop when blood clots form inside external hemorrhoids, making them extremely painful and tender. Fortunately, there are a number of natural and safe treatment methods to help you get some quick relief. These methods can easily be used at home, and you don’t need to worry about side effects that come with some drugs.
1. Use sitz baths
Warm water can be used therapeutically to ease the discomfort associated with painful, itchy or inflamed hemorrhoids. A sitz bath, which is a small plastic tub that fits over your toilet seat, provides a convenient method of doing just that. Soaking your anal area in a sitz bath for at least 15 minutes two or three times a day can work wonders. It’s especially effective if you use a sitz immediately after every bowel movement to also clean the area. These sitz baths are readily available in most pharmacies and medical supply stores, so finding them shouldn’t be difficult.
2. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel is a natural product that is reputed to reduce pain, itching, and bleeding till hemorrhoids fade out. It acts as a natural anti-inflammatory agent since it contains tannins and oils that lessen inflammation and pain. The witch hazel also has astringent properties that enable it to tighten the skin and shrink the blood vessels in the area applied. This reduces swelling and bleeding. You can purchase witch hazel in liquid form after which it can be applied to the hemorrhoids using a cotton pad. The product also comes in many forms like anti-itch wipes and soaps that you can also use.
3. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is also another product with natural anti-inflammatory properties that will help soothe the pain and swelling associated with hemorrhoids. Although there isn’t much research regarding its use in hemorrhoids, aloe vera has shown high effectiveness in treatment of inflammatory skin conditions. Remember to use pure aloe vera and not creams with additional ingredients used to treat other conditions. You can buy pure aloe vera gel at pharmacies and medical supply stores or you could go the DIY route and harvest it yourself from the plant’s leaves.
However, keep in mind that some people are allergic to aloe vera so test your response before committing to treatment. Check for an allergic reaction by rubbing a coin-sized amount onto the skin on your forearm. Observe the response after 1 or 2 days. If no reaction occurs then it should be safe to use.
4. Epsom salts and glycerine
This less-known home treatment method for painful hemorrhoids can also work wonders. Epsom salts have anti-inflammatory properties and can also shrink blood vessels and reduce pain. Epsom salts and glycerine can be used as the base ingredients to make a mixture that you can apply directly to the inflamed hemorrhoids. Directions for use are as follows:
● Mix 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt with 2 tablespoons of glycerine
● Apply the mixture to a gauze pad and apply it on the inflamed hemorrhoid
● Leave the gauze in the area for 15-20 minutes
● Repeat the above steps every 6 hours until the pain fades
But this isn’t the only way you can use this remedy at home. Another option is to add the Epsom salts into warm water when preparing to use a sitz bath. That way you can combine the soothing effect of a sitz bath to the anti-inflammatory properties of Epsom salts for added effectiveness.
5. Cold Compresses
Cold temperatures are soothing to inflamed skin and will encourage contraction of blood vessels. These properties are very useful for treatment of large, painful hemorrhoids because it will not only ease the associated swelling, pain and discomfort but also reduce their size. Therefore, apply an ice pack or a cold compress over the hemorrhoids for at least 15 minutes for instant results.
Be sure to wrap the ice inside a cloth or layers of paper towels before placing it on the skin. When ice is applied directly to bare skin, it can cause immediate damage especially if the skin is damp. Also, take care to simply place the cold compress gently over the inflamed hemorrhoids and avoid rubbing it in. This is because rubbing can aggravate existing hemorrhoids and worsen your symptoms.
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Lifestyle and dietary modification for SELF-HELP treatment
While you can use the above methods for immediate relief when treating hemorrhoids, they aren’t sufficient to ensure complete control and prevent recurrence. However, you can change some of your habits and modify your diet as a long-term solution for treating hemorrhoids. Doing this will directly act on the root of the problem instead of just treating the symptoms that come up. The main causes of hemorrhoids are straining during bowel movements and weakening of pelvic floor muscles so most of the actions taken for treatment involve preventing these issues.
1. Good bowel habits
If you have hemorrhoids, it’s imperative that you streamline your bowel habits if you want to properly treat them and prevent them from recurring. First off, when you feel like you need to go, don’t wait. While this advice may seem laughable and obvious, excessive delaying of bowel movements is a major cause of constipation. The longer stool remains in your rectum, the more water is absorbed and the harder it becomes. Hard stool inevitably causes constipation and straining during bowel movements which can cause development of hemorrhoids or worsen pre-existing ones.
Also, take care to only sit for as long as needed while in the bathroom. Avoid activities like chatting, browsing, or reading while having a bowel movement as they will increase the time spent sitting, which is bad for hemorrhoids. Trying a squatting position when you use the bathroom is another great idea. You can place a short bench under your feet to raise your knees. It has been proven to make bowel movements much easier. When you’re done, wipe gently using soft unscented toilet paper. If you find toilet paper too irritating, then use pre-moistened wipes, cotton balls or alcohol-free baby wipes.
2. Increase the fiber in your diet
Fiber helps to soften stool and promotes efficient movement of food through the digestive system. By so doing, it prevents constipation and straining during bowel movements. A fiber-rich diet will also reduce the pain associated with hemorrhoids by making stool soft and easier to pass. Choosing to eat food that’s rich in fiber is highly beneficial for treating hemorrhoids.
Examples of foods rich in fiber include fruits, legumes (peas), vegetables, bran, whole grain cereals and brown bread. If you feel that your dietary intake still isn’t enough, there are a variety of products that can supplement your fiber intake. These include psyllium, methylcellulose, calcium polycarbophil and wheat dextrin. All of these fiber supplements are readily available in pharmacies and grocery stores without the need for a prescription. Just be sure to add fiber gradually in the early stages in order to avoid bloating.
3. Increase your water intake
Other than fiber, water is another major factor that determines the nature of your stool. Drinking enough water will keep your stool soft, which in turn reduces the pain of hemorrhoids. To ensure you drink enough water, a general rule of thumb is drinking about 8 glasses of water per day. This amount should be increased if you live in a perpetually hot region or when exercising.
Furthermore, take steps to avoid both alcohol and coffee if you have hemorrhoids. They both promote the loss of water from your body, which can cause constipation and aggravate hemorrhoids. As a bonus, drinking sufficient water has many other health benefits including maintenance of optimal kidney function.
Exercising diligently is arguably one of the most effective methods of treating your hemorrhoids in the long-term. Exercising is so effective because it combats hemorrhoids on multiple fronts. It will keep you active and help you avoid simply sitting or standing for long periods of time, both of which cause pooling of blood and encourage hemorrhoid formation.
Exercise will also keep you from getting overweight, which is a major risk factor for development and recurrence of hemorrhoids. You’ll also get to enjoy increased blood circulation if you exercise more. As a result, the formation of clots will be prevented and your hemorrhoids will heal much faster. However, there are conflicting reports about the effect of exercise on hemorrhoids. In fact, many people view the whole idea as a catch-22, where exercise is beneficial but can also cause more problems. The trick to it is knowing the right kind of exercises to perform. Some exercises will increase your lower abdominal pressure and put extra strain on your pelvic floor muscles.
This will worsen the situation for those who already have hemorrhoids. The exercises to avoid include heavy resistance training like weight-lifting, intense core abdominal exercises like pilates exercises, and deep squats.
On the other hand, a number of exercises have proved to be very beneficial when it comes to the treatment of hemorrhoids. These include:
● Mild cardiovascular exercises.
Walking, jogging, swimming, and some light aerobics are all exercises you can easily do without worrying about your hemorrhoids. These cardiovascular exercises will increase your heart rate and get your blood pumping smoothly to promote healing. They will also keep you fit, which improves your posture to promote healthier and gentler bowel movements. Furthermore, cardiovascular exercises cause the release of ‘feel-good’ hormones called endorphins that signal your body to block pain and reduce stress. Performing these exercises for 20 to 30 minutes every day is a great way of treating your hemorrhoids and staying healthy at the same time.
In this exercise, focus on stretching your abdomen and thighs to best treat your hemorrhoids. First, stand up straight then lift your legs one at a time to a 90-degree angle in front of you. Repeat these exercises for 3 to 10 minutes in order to complete a single session. These leg-lifts are guaranteed to improve circulation to your hemorrhoids, promoting relief. For external hemorrhoids, stand up in an upright position while stretching out to onto your toes. Then, left your arms towards the ceiling before bending forward till your fingertips touch the ground. Do this regularly to strengthen your anal muscle and prevent you from getting external hemorrhoids in the future.
Kegels are undoubtedly the best way to deal with your hemorrhoids. These exercise directly strengthen your pelvic and anal muscles. In so doing, they increase blood flow to the hemorrhoids to promote healing and also prevent internal hemorrhoids from becoming external hemorrhoids. They are designed for both sexes and have multiple other benefits like improved sexual function and treatment of incontinence. To perform this exercise, contract the correct muscle by repeating the action you do when stopping urination. A basic routine is squeezing the pelvic muscle for 5 seconds then releasing for 10 seconds. Perform 10 sets of this action for about three times a day and you’ll be able to reap maximum benefits.
You can read more how to get rid of hemorrhoids HERE.
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