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Hemorrhoids are a common problem for men and women, and although they are usually harmless, they can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. These enlarged veins located in the anal canal usually develop when there is a chronic increase in pressure in the rectum and anus, which usually occurs with constipation, straining, and sitting for long periods in the toilet.

Hemorrhoids are more common in older people who have weakened blood vessel walls, in pregnant women, in obese individuals, and in those who consume a low fiber diet. Other risk factors include chronic diarrhea or constipation, liver disease, heart disease, and a family history of the condition.

Symptoms

People who have hemorrhoids may experience pain, discomfort, swelling, irritation and itching in the anal region. They may also notice a small amount of bright red blood with their stools or on the toilet paper or a lump near the anus. Sometimes the swollen veins may bulge out of the anus. These symptoms may come and go, but they usually resolve after a few days.

Consult your doctor if you experience severe pain or swelling, heavy anal bleeding, changes in your stool character, a lump or bulge that does not go away, or if your symptoms do not go away after one week of home treatment.

Treatments and Remedies for Hemorrhoids

Most cases of hemorrhoids can be treated at home with simple measures to reduce pain, swelling and bleeding. One should also eat a fiber-rich diet to relieve constipation, and avoid straining in the toilet.

Medications used include:

  • over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen for pain and swelling

  • petroleum jelly or ointments containing zinc oxide to protect the skin around the anus

  • rectal suppositories, such as Preparation H to lubricate the anus during bowel movements

  • 1% Hydrocortisone ointments to relieve inflammation and anal itching

  • local anesthetics to numb the anal area

These medications must be used for short periods only, because prolonged use may lead so side effects such as skin thinning and allergic reactions.

Other non-surgical, minimally invasive office procedures that can help shrink hemorrhoids include rubber band ligation, sclerotherapy (chemical injection), and coagulation techniques.

Home remedies include:

  • Using soft, white, premoistened toilet paper or wipes to pat or gently blot the anus, instead of rubbing after bowel movements

  • Rinsing the anus using the bidet or shower

  • Avoiding the use of perfumed soaps

  • Applying ice to the anus several times a day, followed by warm compress

  • Having bed rest to reduce inflammation and swelling

  • Avoiding sitting or standing for long periods

  • Avoiding lifting weights

  • Wearing loose cotton underwear

  • Drinking plenty of fruit juices

  • Avoiding straining or holding your breath while moving your bowels

  • Sitting on a hot sitz bath for 15 minutes after bowel movements

Some people believe that natural or herbal remedies can also help relieve hemorrhoids. Some of the foods you can take orally to reduce hemorrhoids include raw almonds, leeks, jambul fruit, coriander juice, and rutin. Others also recommend applying herbs directly to the anal area, including blended cranberries on cheesecloth, witch hazel on a cotton pad, a clove of garlic or raw potato suppositories, and papaya juice on a wad of cotton.

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