Hemorrhoids are inflammations of the anal region that can be uncomfortable and cause itching and swelling. They are caused by straining when you have a bowel movement or other factors. They usually occur in adults but can also affect children and adolescents.
Hemorrhoid symptoms typically improve over time without treatment. But, if they don’t go away after a week or so, talk to your doctor. He or she may recommend a stool softener or medication to ease your symptoms.
If you have hemorrhoids that don’t respond to home treatments, your doctor might suggest medications or surgery. These treatments can help reduce your symptoms and prevent them from coming back.
Internal hemorrhoids are the most common type of hemorrhoids. They develop on the wall of your anal canal or rectum, and are often not visible. They can also prolapse, which is very painful.
Your health care provider will likely look at your rectum during an examination and test your rectal area with a special camera to see what’s going on inside of it. These tests can also diagnose other medical problems that might be causing your bleeding, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
You can treat hemorrhoids at home using over-the-counter pain relievers, sitz baths, and creams or ointments that contain ingredients like witch hazel, aloe vera, or caffeine. You can also try a fiber supplement or other changes to your diet that will help you get more fiber.
Avoid toilet paper and other types of tissue that are irritants or have perfumes and colors on them. Use moistened wipes instead.
Regular exercise can also help you control your hemorrhoids by reducing the straining that causes them to flare up. Getting your daily dose of exercise can reduce the pressure on your anal area and make it easier to pass stools, says Ronald Hsu, M.D., a gastroenterologist with Sutter Roseville Medical Center.
If you’re overweight, you can try losing weight to help alleviate hemorrhoids. Eating a high-fiber diet, drinking plenty of water, and exercising regularly can also help.
Hemorrhoids can also develop in the lining of your intestines (colon or rectum). In these cases, you will need to have a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy to find out what’s wrong.
You can help prevent hemorrhoids by eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. You can also take a fiber supplement and drink lots of water.
To help you stay healthy and prevent hemorrhoids, try to cut down on caffeine, alcohol, and sugary foods. These can irritate your anal area and increase the risk of developing them.
Taking a sitz bath or soaking in a tub of warm water can also help decrease the itching and swelling of hemorrhoids. You can purchase sitz baths at most pharmacies or by calling your doctor’s office.
The best way to control hemorrhoids is to follow a healthy, balanced diet and keep your anal area clean and dry. Other measures, such as avoiding toilet paper and changing your clothes to cotton underwear, can also help.