Hemorrhoids or piles are very common and bothersome and they affect about half of the population of people who are above 50 years. So what are they and where do hemorrhoids come from?
What are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are distended veins around the anus and inside the rectum. The hemorrhoids found around the skin of the anus are known as external hemorrhoids while those in the lower part of the rectum are internal hemorrhoids. In some cases, internal hemorrhoids protrude out of the anus and this is referred to as a prolapsed hemorrhoid.
A prolapsed hemorrhoid can retract on its own, require to be pushed inside using a finger, or may stubbornly remain outside the anus even after you try to push it in. Another type of hemorrhoids are thrombosed hemorrhoids. These are caused by the appearance of blood clots inside the blood vessels of the internal or external hemorrhoids.
The most common tell-tale signs of hemorrhoids are swelling around the anus, pain, itching, and bleeding. Bleeding of external hemorrhoids is accompanied with pain but internal hemorrhoids bleed painlessly. This is because the rectum doesn’t have pain receptors while the anus does. In fact, people with internal hemorrhoids may not know they exist until they bleed or they become prolapsed.
Where Do Hemorrhoids Come From?
Hemorrhoids form when the blood vessels are put under immense pressure from various factors. The pressure restricts the smooth flow of blood to and from the heart so blood pools and the veins swell as a result. Some of the most common factors that lead to the development of hemorrhoids include:
Straining During Bowel Movements
This is perhaps the most common cause of hemorrhoids. Repeatedly struggling to pass stool because of chronic constipation puts a lot of pressure on the blood vessels in the anal canal. This hinders the proper flow of blood so your blood vessels distend with the backlog of blood. You may also strain these blood vessels when you have chronic diarrhea. The frequent movement of bowels also puts pressure on these blood vessels.
The incidence of hemorrhoids in pregnant women is not uncommon. The weight of the fetus especially in the third trimester presses on blood vessels in the lower body including those in the anus and rectum. Moreover, the hormonal imbalance during pregnancy also causes the uncharacteristic swelling of blood vessels. Hemorrhoids that come as a result of pregnancy go away soon after childbirth.
Excess Body Weight
Obesity and being overweight puts you at a higher risk of developing hemorrhoids. The excess body weight puts pressure on the anal and rectal veins and may cause hemorrhoids. Read more about exercising.
Like many other body organs, the connective tissue between the rectum and anus gets weaker with age. This makes you more susceptible to developing bulging and swollen blood vessels because they have a less robust support.
Do Hemorrhoids Go Away on Their Own?
Small hemorrhoids may go away on their own within a few days of them developing without any treatment. Large hemorrhoids however may take a longer time to disappear and often times, they require the intervention of treatment.
When you don’t struggle to move your bowels, your chances of developing hemorrhoids are also significantly low. Here are ways you can avoid getting constipated:
- Eat plenty of fiber - Fiber adds to the bulk of stool and softens it so it’s easier to pass it. Eat foods that are rich in fiber such as legumes, fruits, vegetables, whole grain, and bran.
- Drink lots of water – Water aids in digestion and also softens stool so that it’s easier to move your bowels.
- Exercise – Staying active stimulates your bowel movements so you’ll have an easier time in the toilet.
- Don’t delay going to the toilet – When you feel the urge to pass stool and ignore it, it hardens so when you eventually heed the call, it becomes an unpleasant ordeal.
- Drink caffeinated coffee – Drinking coffee stimulates your digestive muscles and gives you the urge to go to the toilet. It also has small amounts of fiber.
- Avoid processed foods – Processed foods contain very little fiber because it’s removed in the processing process.
- You can find four easy steps how to get rid of hemorrhoids fast here.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid chronic diarrhea and the developing and flaring of hemorrhoids:
- Keep your hands clean – You touch so many things as you go about your day that may have microorganisms that could cause diarrhea. Wash your hands before you eat anything and before and after using the bathroom. Use warm water and soap to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
- Be careful with meat – Keep uncooked meat away from other foods and cook it thoroughly.
- Fruits and vegetables - Wash fruits and vegetables well before eating them.
- Water – Don’t drink any water without making sure it’s clean and safe to drink.
- Dairy products – Don’t eat any dairy products that have not been pasteurized.
- Perishable foods - Refrigerate all perishable foods
- Utensils and counter tops – Thoroughly clean all utensils and counter tops before and after use.
- Read more about correct nutrition during hemorrhoid here.
Treatment for Hemorrhoids Flares
When your hemorrhoids get painful, itchy, or uncomfortable, use the following methods to find relief:
Soaking in a tub or a sitz bath with warm water soothes irritations and makes the swelling go down because it improves blood circulation. You can add Epsom salts for better results. Put hemorrhoids in warm water for 15-20 minutes.
Pressing an ice pack wrapped in a towel or cloth on the hemorrhoids will reduce pain and shrink the size the hemorrhoids. Do it for 15 minutes and you’ll feel better.
Clean the Anus
Properly clean your anus after bowel movements using cotton pads or soothing wipes. Avoid harsh toilet paper which will only make matter worse.
Witch hazel is an anti-inflammatory plant that you can use in on your hemorrhoids. It will reduce swelling, itching, pain, and even bleeding.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar has anti-inflammatory properties that reduce inflammation, irritation, and pain. Dilute it in carrier oil because it’s concentrated and may harm your skin.
Home remedies are very effective at reducing hemorrhoids symptoms so don’t have to spend a pretty penny to find relief. Only seek medical help when home remedies don’t help you feel better.