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How Common Are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are swollen, enlarged veins inside the rectum or located outside the rectum around the anus. They are very similar in nature to the varicose veins that often develop on the lower limbs. They are very common and an estimated 75% of adults will develop one or more hemorrhoids at various times throughout life.

Causes

Many cases of hemorrhoids are related to eating a low-fiber diet. The stools produced from a low-fiber diet tend to cause constipation and the need to strain to pass them, which can lead to the development of hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids also frequently develop during pregnancy, presumably due to the extra pressure placed on the abdomen by the growing fetus. Some cases of hemorrhoids appear to be related to spending long periods of time sitting on toilets while reading, and they are also not uncommon in bodybuilders who regularly lift very heavy weights. However, in some cases, there is no apparent cause.

Symptoms

External hemorrhoids tend to itch and sometimes can be painful. They may also bleed. Internal hemorrhoids tend to bleed and sometimes one will protrude into the anal opening, causing irritation and pain. If a hemorrhoid bleeds and the blood cannot find an escape route from the hemorrhoid, it will clot and form a hard lump, which may be very painful.

Treatment

You should never assume the blood you observe in the toilet, in your underwear, or in your stool is coming from a hemorrhoid because rectal bleeding can be a symptom of very serious life-threatening diseases. Always consult a doctor for confirmation that your bleeding is indeed coming from hemorrhoids.

Minor cases of hemorrhoids can be treated at home. Over the counter creams can be used to soothe any itching and irritation, but the real treatment revolves around increasing your fiber intake. Most nutritionists recommend eating at least five servings of vegetables every day, which should supply sufficient fiber. However, if you have difficulty in following this advice, whole-grain products, beans, and fiber supplements are other options.

If your hemorrhoids are painful or bleeding a lot, doctors have developed several minimally invasive methods to remove them, including:

  • Rubber band ligation
  • Sclerotherapy
  • Heat coagulation using a laser
  • Surgical removal
  • Stapling

The best approach varies depending on individual patient factors and the size and number of hemorrhoids and needs to be selected after discussing all of the pros and cons with your doctor.

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All About Hemorrhoidectomy Recovery

Surgical procedures will always come with a relatively lengthy recovery time that requires you to follow strict guidelines if you want to heal as quickly as possible. The same is true for a hemorrhoidectomy. If you want the treatment to be 100 percent successful, it’s important that your recovery process is a smooth and efficient one.

What Is a Hemorrhoidectomy?

If you’ve been diagnosed with hemorrhoids and find that over-the-counter medications and lifestyle changes aren’t enough to get rid of them, it might be necessary for you to obtain a hemorrhoidectomy. This is a type of surgical procedure that’s aimed at removing the hemorrhoids altogether. The surgeon who administers this treatment will place several small incisions around the anus, through which the hemorrhoids will be removed.

You can either be provided with general anesthesia or local anesthesia, the former of which puts you to sleep. Once the hemorrhoids have been removed, the incisions will be closed with stitches. Even though this surgery is considered to be a moderately invasive surgery, you will likely be able to go home on the same day of the treatment.

What the Recovery Process Entails

After the hemorrhoidectomy has been completed, you will begin the recovery process, which is invariably going to be at its worst on the first day. You should expect to go through pains and aches around the incision site for anywhere from 2-4 weeks. This pain can be very uncomfortable because of its location, which is why you might want to consider using pain relievers to aid your recovery. Some light bleeding will likely occur from the anus as well, which is entirely normal and can last for upwards of two months. This bleeding will take place with your bowel movements.

After a couple of weeks have passed, you should be able to return to your everyday activities without much issues. However, you want to avoid doing certain activities that will place too much stress on the body, which include straining during bowel movements and lifting heavy items. Make sure that you add fiber to your diet throughout this process, which ensures that your bowel movements are much easier.

Another great way to avoid straining and constipation is by drinking water consistently as you recover. While you’re at home, make sure that you rest whenever you feel tired. You should prepare to take two weeks off of work while the recovery process is ongoing. As long as you follow these guidelines, you shouldn’t experience any problems while recovering from a hemorrhoidectomy.

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Factors That Could Be Increasing Your Risk of Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are among the more painful conditions that can occur when certain veins within the anus or rectum become swollen and inflamed. Along with a high amount of discomfort, you’ll likely experience bleeding until the hemorrhoids have been treated, which can be frustrating to deal with. If you want to avoid experiencing these issues in the first place, understanding the risk factors that are associated with hemorrhoids should help you substantially lower your risk of developing them.

What Are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are a common health issue that leads to the development of inflamed and swollen veins in some area of the anus or rectum. These veins can either be internal or external, the location of which determines what treatment you’ll be provided with. The symptoms that you experience when suffering from hemorrhoids depend on where the hemorrhoids are located. In some areas, the presence of hemorrhoids can bring about constant pain, discomfort, bleeding, and itchiness until the hemorrhoids are cleared up. These symptoms may worsen during bowel movements. The main types of treatment for hemorrhoids include lifestyle changes and procedures like sclerotherapy.

Standard Risk Factors

The main causes and risk factors associated with hemorrhoids include everything from chronic constipation and diarrhea to sitting for a long time on the toilet. Since hemorrhoids develop in nearly 75 percent of people at some point in their lives, the causes of hemorrhoids are too numerous to list. These swollen veins can also develop if you strain too much during bowel movements. When blood pressure rises in the blood vessels within the anus or rectum, the vessels can slip into an incorrect position, which causes irritation and swelling.

Lifestyle Risk Factors

Even though the bowel movements are the most common cause of hemorrhoids, there are an array of lifestyle factors that heighten your chance of suffering from one or more hemorrhoids. For instance, it’s important that you remain hydrated if you wish to avoid hemorrhoids. Becoming dehydrated or not consuming enough water throughout the day can lead to the development of constipation, which can cause hemorrhoids to develop. A diet that’s low in fiber will also put you at a greater risk since these diets increase the risk of constipation. Instead, fill your diet with foods that are rich in fiber, which include beans, pears, broccoli, almonds, bananas, oranges, and brown rice. You should also exercise regularly to increase muscle tone in the anorectal muscles, which lessens your risk of hemorrhoids.

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Preventing Hemorrhoids During Your Pregnancy

While there are many wonderful things about a pregnancy, there are a few unpleasant things you may have heard about, such as hemorrhoids. It’s usually hormonal changes experienced during pregnancy that affect the digestive system and contribute to constipation. Extra weight from a growing baby can also place pressure on veins. However, there are some steps you can take to minimize issues with hemorrhoids as your pregnancy continues.

Drink More Water

Hydration is important during pregnancy for many reasons. When it comes to hemorrhoid prevention, H2O promotes softer stools and helps reduce excessive straining during bowel movements. Generally, you’ll want to consume about 8-10 glasses of water per day throughout your pregnancy.

Do Kegel Exercises Daily

Your risk of pregnancy-related hemorrhoids may be reduced by doing kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor. These exercises boost circulation in the anal/rectal area and the space between the anus and vulva (perineum). Performed on empty bladder, kegels involve squeezing and contracting pelvic muscles without pulling your stomach in.

Don’t Ignore the Urge to ‘Go’

With bowel movements, don’t fight the urge to go. Holding back can make it more difficult to go, which could result in increased strain in the rectal/anal area. Instead, get into the habit of going as soon as you feel the urge to do so. One way to avoid straining is to place your feet on a stool when you go. Also, relax and don’t push during bowel movements.

Avoid Sitting/Standing for Long Periods of Time

Staying in one position, whether it’s sitting or standing, for too long while pregnant can contribute to hemorrhoid problems. If you normally sit for work, make an effort to take periodic breaks during your pregnancy to get up and walk around. Conversely, if you’re normally on your feet a lot, do some simple stretches to keep your blood flow going and sit now and then to give yourself a break.

Exercise, other than kegels, can also help you avoid distracting issues with hemorrhoids during your pregnancy. You’ll want to avoid anything too strenuous and check with your doctor before you start any exercise routine, especially during later stages of pregnancy. However, most pregnant women are able to safely do about 30 minutes of low-impact exercises daily. Walking, yoga, and water-based activities like swimming are types of exercises that can contribute to healthy bowel movements.

Best and Worst Exercises for Hemorrhoids - Orange County Hemorrhiod Clinic
Best and Worst Exercises for Hemorrhoids

Best and Worst Exercises for Hemorrhoids

Enlarged or swollen anal veins can make it difficult to do many things, including get regular exercise. If you are in the habit of working out or exercising on a regular basis, having hemorrhoids doesn’t have to sideline you from such activities. In fact, regular exercise can reduce constipation and minimize issues with recurrence. Although, certain types of exercise can make the problem worse, so it’s important to be wise about choosing how you exercise.

Good Exercises for Hemorrhoids

When exercising to prevent hemorrhoids, the goal is to encourage regular bowel movements, improve circulation, and strengthen muscles in the pelvic area and lower back. Increased blood flow, in particular, boosts the delivery of beneficial nutrients and oxygen to the affected area. Exercises that are generally considered safe and effective for hemorrhoid management and prevention include:

  • Walking and other cardiovascular exercises
  • Treadmill or elliptical machine exercises
  • Water-based exercises like swimming and water aerobics
  • Exercises targeting the sphincter muscles
  • Kegels and similar pelvic floor exercises
  • Yoga and similar controlled-movement exercises to help strengthen abdominal and rectal tissues

Exercises to Avoid

If you’re among the estimated 10-15 million Americans currently living with hemorrhoids, there are certain exercises it’s best to avoid. For example, you might experience increased discomfort with horseback riding, cycling, rowing, and similar forms of exercise that tend to place pressure on sensitive areas. With weightlifting and gym-based exercises, routines that involve holding your breath while you push to exhale (the Valsalva maneuver) may make hemorrhoid pain worse. If you normally do strenuous workout routines, however, you may be able to modify your techniques so you’re not placing as much pressure on affected areas.

Preparing to Exercise When You Have Hemorrhoids

Regardless of what your preferences are with exercise, there are certain preparations that may reduce your risk of aggregating existing hemorrhoid-related discomfort. Staying hydrated, for instance, can prevent constipation from developing as you go through your exercise routine or workout. It can also be helpful to wear loose, breathable clothing so you’re not creating friction in affected areas.

After you finish exercising, change out of any clothing that’s wet from sweat to avoid irritation in areas where you normally have hemorrhoid issues. Taking a warm bath can also soothe the affected area or reduce your risk of developing new hemorrhoids. Some people with hemorrhoids also find what’s termed a sitz bath to be soothing. This is “bath” that’s done with a small plastic tub placed over a toilet seat so that only the buttocks and hips are submerged in water.

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