Do you have a suspicious lump in the anal area and you are not sure whether it’s a hemorrhoid or an anal fissure tag? The two are similar and can easily be confused for each other.
Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in the anus or rectum while anal fissure skin tags are skin folds that result from tears around the anal area due to persistent inflammation. However, anal fissure skin tags cause a sharper pain than hemorrhoids during bowel movements.
This article will focus on external hemorrhoids and equip you with all the information you need to deal with them.
Symptoms of Hemorrhoids
The general symptoms of hemorrhoids include presence of lumps in the rectal and anal regions, pain during bowel movements, itchiness, and bleeding. The two different types of hemorrhoids have their own unique symptoms.
Symptoms of External Hemorrhoids
External hemorrhoids are present in and around the anus so they are easily detectable. The symptoms of external hemorrhoids are as follows:
- Pain in the anal area as you pass stool
- Discomfort while sitting
- Itchiness and irritation around the anus
- Hard lumps around the anus that you feel as you wipe
Symptoms of Internal Hemorrhoids
Internal hemorrhoids are found inside the rectal canal so they may go undetected for a long time. However, here are symptoms that may indicate you have them:
- Rectal bleeding – You will notice blood on stool and in the toilet but this kind of bleeding is painless because the rectum lacks pain receptors.
- Prolapsed hemorrhoids – In some rare cases, internal hemorrhoids will protrude out of the anus and cause you discomfort especially while sitting.
Whom Do Hemorrhoids Affect?
Hemorrhoids can affect anyone but certain individuals are more vulnerable to getting them than others. They are:
Those with Chronic Constipation and Diarrhea
Constipation is the most common reason for hemorrhoids because struggling to pass hard stool strains the blood vessels of the rectum and anus. On the other hand, frequently passing stool is just as strenuous and it may also cause the swelling of blood vessels in the rectum and anus.
Obese and Overweight People
Being obese or overweight forces your body to carry excess weight and this can lead to the engorgement of veins on the lower part of the body, including the rectum and anus.
Hemorrhoids are a common complaint among pregnant women with an estimated 25%-35% of them suffering from the condition. This is because the weight of the fetus rests on a major blood vessel that carries blood from the lower parts of the body to the heart. Thus, proper blood flow to the rectum and anus is hindered and hemorrhoids may develop.
Another reason is that the hormonal imbalance associated with pregnancy leads to the abnormal swelling of blood vessels in their bodies.
Hemorrhoids are very common among middle-aged and older people. This is because the muscles in their rectums and anuses get weaker with age so when they are subjected to pressure, hemorrhoids easily occur.
Those Genetically Predisposed
When you have close family members who suffer from hemorrhoids, you are more likely to suffer from them too. This may be because you have genetically weaker muscles in the rectum and anus.
Treating External Hemorrhoids
External hemorrhoids can be treated using over-the counter medication, natural remedies, and medical procedures.
You can purchase creams, ointments, gels, and suppositories from a pharmacy near you to relieve the symptoms of hemorrhoids. They are made from compounds like hydrocortisone or witch hazel which reduce inflammation, pain, and irritation. Wipes made from the same compounds are also available so that you can avoid using the harsh regular toilet paper.
Several essential oils have anti-inflammatory properties so they will relieve swelling, pain, and irritation from hemorrhoids. Essential oils you can use on hemorrhoids include frankincense, cypress, peppermint, clove, tea tree, chamomile, and Helichrysum.
Soaking your anus in warm water will soothe the pain and itchiness. It will also reduce inflammation by improving blood flow in the blood vessels.
Aloe vera gel is natural anti-inflammatory agent so you can apply it to your hemorrhoids to relieve the pain, irritation, and inflammation.
Tea leaves contain tannic in them which are anti-inflammatory so they can relieve swelling, itchiness, and irritation. To use a tea bag as a remedy, dip it in warm water and press it on the hemorrhoids.
This is a surgical procedure that involves the cutting open of hemorrhoids and removing the swollen veins.
A rubber band is used in this procedure to tie the bottom of a hemorrhoid and cut off its blood supply. With no sustenance, it eventually shrinks or falls off.
In this method, infrared light, extreme heat or cold is used to shrink a hemorrhoid.
This procedure involves the injection of a chemical into the hemorrhoid that will cause it shrink.
Here are some tips you should follow to avoid getting hemorrhoids:
You should include enough fluids in your diet to avoid getting constipated. Fluids, especially water, soften stool so that it passes out of the anus smoothly.
Eat More Fiber
Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool while soluble fiber combines with water to soften stool. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains which are rich in fiber.
Regularly exercising will stimulate the digestive process and move stool quicker down the gut so that it doesn’t harden. Special exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor HERE.
If you’re lucky enough to have never suffered from hemorrhoids, make sure you practice the preventive measures. Preventive measures are also important if you’ve had hemorrhoids before to save you the misfortune of them recurring. You’ll be glad you did!