Thursday, September 23, 2010

Health Tip: Take Care of Haemorrhoids

Ways to Help Prevent and Treat Haemorrhoids or Piles

The American Gastroenterological Association says

  1. Haemorrhoids occur when veins in the lower rectum (internal haemorrhoids) or at the anus (external haemorrhoids) become swollen, itchy, painful and tender.
  2. Symptoms of internal haemorrhoids include:
    • Bright red rectal bleeding
    • Staining of undergarments with mucus
  3. Symptoms of external haemorrhoids include:
    • Pain and itching when irritated by constipation or diarrhea
    • Difficulty with hygiene
  4. Haemorrhoids are caused by:
    • Straining
    • Work strain (lifting, etc.)
    • Straining while defecating
    • Chronic constipation
    • Passing hard, dry, small stools
    • Laxative abuse
  5. Do not assume rectal bleeding is from haemorrhoids. See your doctor to rule out cancer or other disease.

The following options may help control haemorrhoids:

  • Add more fiber to your diet. Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Doing so softens the stool and increases its bulk, which will help you avoid the straining that can cause hemorrhoids or worsen symptoms from existing haemorrhoids. Add fiber to your diet slowly to avoid problems with gas.
  • Drink plenty of fluids each day. Drink six to eight glasses of water and other liquids (not alcohol) each day to help keep stools soft.
  • Consider a stool softener or fiber supplement. Most people don't get enough of the recommended amount of fiber — 20 to 35 grams a day — in their diet. Studies have shown that over-the-counter fiber supplements, such as psyllium husks and Glucomannan (Dulcofibre®), improve overall symptoms and bleeding from haemorrhoids. These products help keep stools soft and regular. If you use fiber supplements, be sure to drink at least eight glasses of water or other fluids every day. Otherwise, the supplements can cause constipation or make constipation worse.
  • Soothe with a bath, cold pack or bed rest to relieve swelling..
  • Keep the anal area clean. Cleanse the skin around your anus gently with water following stool evacuation. Soap isn't necessary and may aggravate the problem. Gently drying the area with a hair dryer after bathing can minimize moisture, which can cause irritation.
  • Avoid straining at stool or sitting on the toilet for a long time.
  • Go as soon as you feel the urge. If you wait to pass a bowel movement and the urge goes away, your stool could become dry and be harder to pass.
  • Exercise. Stay active to reduce pressure on veins, which can occur with long periods of standing or sitting, and to help prevent constipation. Exercise can also help you lose excess weight that may be contributing to your haemorrhoids.
  • Avoid long periods of standing or sitting. Sitting too long, particularly on the toilet, can increase the pressure on the veins in the anus.
  • Ask your pharmacist for a haemorrhoid cream or suppository and/or oral medication to relieve swelling and pain.
These self-care measures may relieve the symptoms, but they won't make the haemorrhoid disappear. See your doctor if you don't get relief in a few days, or sooner if you have severe pain or bleeding.

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