Haemorrhoids are swollen and inflamed veins in the rectum or anus. The good news is there are several ways to treat haemorrhoids and ease the pain, itching or other symptoms they may cause.
Causes of Haemorrhoids
The uncomfortable condition usually affects adults aged 45 to 65 and haemorrhoids are typically caused by increased pressure in the veins of the anus. Obesity and inactivity play a role in who develops haemorrhoids. Pregnancy and childbirth can also increase women's risk for these protrusions.
When haemorrhoids do form, they occur inside the rectum (internal haemorrhoids) or near the anal opening (external haemorrhoids).
"You often can't see or feel the internal ones," said Dr. Herbert Lerner, a colon-rectal surgeon and FDA medical officer, in an agency news release. "But straining during bowel movements and constipation can cause these haemorrhoids to bleed and occasionally push through the anal opening."
- Eat fibre-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Exercise and avoid sitting in one place for too long
- Take stool softeners or fibre supplements
Symptoms of Haemorrhoids
When a haemorrhoid pushes through the anal opening, it is known as a protruding or prolapsed haemorrhoid, which can be irritating. Blood can pool in an external haemorrhoid and form a clot, which can cause severe pain, swelling and inflammation, Lerner said.
Other common symptoms of haemorrhoids include the following:
- itching (especially when sitting)
- bright red blood on toilet tissue, stool or in the toilet (Dark red or black blood could be a sign of a more serious condition.)
- painful bowel movements
- hard, sore lumps near the anus
Haemorrhoids can be treated with several over-the-counter creams and other remedies. "These products may help you feel more comfortable, but they won't get rid of the underlying haemorrhoids, such as internal haemorrhoids, that commonly cause bleeding," Lerner noted.
Soaking in a warm bath regularly for 10 to 15 minutes and using wet toilet paper after a bowel movement can also ease mild symptoms of haemorrhoids, according to Dr. Rajat Malik, a gastroenterologist with the FDA.
"With these measures, mild symptoms should decrease in two to seven days," advised Malik in the news release. "If your symptoms don't improve with these home treatments, and certainly if they get worse, it's time to talk to your health care provider."
The above report is based on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration news release of February . 11, 2013
The American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons provides more information on haemorrhoids
A sample of products for prevention, relief and topical treatment of haemorrhoids: