For most people, using the bathroom is a relief. But for those people who have hemorrhoids, just the thought of having a bowel movement is enough to send shock waves up and down a person’s spine! Hemorrhoids can cause such excruciating pain that most sufferers would rather deal with constipation than experience the pain of a bowel movement. While some hemorrhoids are largely painless, others can actually interfere with a person’s quality of life.
What are Hemorrhoids?
A hemorrhoid is a swollen vein that is located in the anus and/or rectum. Sometimes hemorrhoids will produce a mass of tissue and blood vessels that protrude from the anus, and are often the genesis of the pain.
What Causes Hemorrhoids?
While it is not clearly known why a hemorrhoid protrusion occurs, it is believed that the straining associated with having a bowel movement may be the culprit. Likewise, hemorrhoids are a common complaint from pregnant woman. It is assumed that the greater pressure in the pelvic area is largely to blame. Therefore, sitting on the toilet for long periods of time can create hemorrhoids because of the amount of pressure being produced.
Symptoms of Hemorrhoids
The following is a list of the most common side effects associated with hemorrhoids. This is not an exhaustive list of side effects. If you experience any side effects not mentioned here that are particularly troublesome, contact your physician.
- Bleeding during a bowel movement
- Itching in anal area
- Rectal pain or discomfort
- Swelling of the tissue surrounding the anus
- A lump near the anus that may be sensitive and/or painful
Types of Hemorrhoids
The symptoms of hemorrhoids listed above may vary according to the type of hemorrhoid you have. The names of the types of hemorrhoids correspond with the set of hemorrhoidal veins they happen to affect.
Internal Hemorrhoids: This type of hemorrhoid involves the veins inside the rectum, and is usually painless, although it is known to bleed during bowel movements.
Prolapsed Internal Hemorrhoids: This type of hemorrhoid occurs when the hemorrhoid stretches down until it protrudes from out of the anus. Prolapsed internal hemorrhoids are painful.
External Hemorrhoids: External hemorrhoids involve the veins around the anus and are known to bleed easily due to rubbing and/or straining.
Treatment of Hemorrhoids
There are a number of over-the-counter topical pain relievers that work effectively for the type of hemorrhoid you happen to have.
Local anesthetics – Benzocaine, Lidocaine and Dibucaine fall into this category. Unfortunately, some people experience burning and itching upon application of these products. If you experience either of these symptoms, discontinue use immediately as this may be the sign of an allergic reaction.
Vasoconstrictors – This category of medication helps shrink the blood vessels which in turn reduces the amount of swelling. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes or thyroid problems, do not use this medication without first getting approval from your doctor or healthcare professional.
Astringents – Believe it or not, many people experience relief from the pain and itching associated with hemorrhoids by using such products as witch hazel, calamine lotion and zinc oxide.
Corticosteroids – This type of medication can help reduce the amount of inflammation as well as the itching, but is not recommended for extended use. Prescription corticosteroids contain a much higher potency than those available over-the-counter.
Sitz Baths – Provides temporary relief of pain and itching.
While hemorrhoids can be a real pain in the behind, there are many treatments available in addition to the ones listed above. Check with your doctor or healthcare professional to find out the best treatment available for you.