Swollen veins around the anus are termed as hemorrhoids. About 75% of the people suffer with hemorrhoids in their lifetime. Hemorrhoids can be either internal hemorrhoids or external hemorrhoids. Internal hemorrhoids that are commonly observed in majority of the patients are located in the inner lining of the rectum and external hemorrhoids are present just beneath the skin around the anus. People suffering with constipation and those who sit or stand for long hours are at high risk of developing hemorrhoids.
There are four stages of hemorrhoids.
- Stage I: Bleeding is observed but there will be no prolapse of the inflamed vein.
- Stage II: Prolapse that subsides spontaneously is observed. Bleeding may or may not be present.
- Stage III: Protruded hemorrhoid that needs manual re-insertion in to the anus.
- Stage IV: Protruded hemorrhoid that cannot be put back.
Hemorrhoids treatment strategy is planned depending on the stage of the hemorrhoid. Non-medical treatment strategy can be planned in initial stages (Stages I and II). But, medical procedures must be used to treat hemorrhoids at later stages (stages III and IV) to prevent complications. In case of complications such as anemia, thorough colonic examination is essential to initiate right treatment.
Hemorrhoids treatment strategies
A variety of medical treatments are available to treat hemorrhoids. They should be used cautiously as per the stage of the hemorrhoid. Treatments such as rubber band ligation, infrared coagulation and sclerotherapy can be used to treat internal hemorrhoids in stage I, II and III. These treatment options relieve symptoms in about 90% of the patients. Stage III internal hemorrhoids are best treated by rubber band ligation so as to remove the abscessed tissue.
Stage IV internal hemorrhoids are often treated by surgical intervention. External hemorrhoids in initial stages are also treated by performing a surgery to remove the hemorrhoids.
- Rubber band ligation: A special type of rubber band is tied at the end of the hemorrhoid so as to cut blood supply to the hemorrhoid tissue. This causes the tissue to shrink and fall off.
- Sclerotherapy: A chemical is injected in to the inflamed vein. Chemical causes the hemorrhoid tissue to shrink.
- Infrared coagulation: Heat generated through infrared rays is used to shrink the hemorrhoids.
All these procedures are performed on an outpatient basis by an experienced physician. The patient can continue with normal activity without getting over strained. Even after successful treatment using any of the above strategies there is risk of recurrence depending on the severity of the disease.
Hemorrhoids treatment using surgical procedures
- Haemorrhoidectomy: Surgical removal of the hemorrhoid tissue and sealing of the remaining tissue so as to prevent recurrence. This procedure is associated with intense post operative pain for about four to five days after operation.
- Stapled hemorrhoidectomy: Prolapsed hemorrhoid tissue is removed using a special stapling device. After removing the hemorrhoid tissue remaining tissue is stapled. Compared to conventional hemorrhoidectomy this causes less pain and faster recovery.
- LASER surgery: Laser rays are used to accurately remove the hemorrhoid tissue. Laser rays seal the cut blood vessels and nerves eliminating the need for sutures. Though an expensive procedure compared to other conventional procedures it causes very less pain, faster relief and very high success rate.
When is it right to undergo surgery?
- Persistent pain for couple of months that does not subside with topical treatments, natural methods and simple medical procedures.
- Presence of complications such as anemia.
Home remedies to relieve hemorrhoid symptoms
- Taking of fiber rich diet so as to soften the stools and increase the bulk to avoid straining.
- Reducing salt intake to prevent further dehydration and worsening of constipation.
- Drinking 8-10 glasses of fluids (avoid alcoholic drinks).
- Soaking in warm water for about ten minutes a day.
- Practice of mild physical activity to relieve constipation.
- Keeping body weight under control.
- Applying ice compress for about ten minutes few times in a day helps to relieve itching and pain.
- Using a doughnut cushion whenever you are forced to sit for long hours.
- Discomfort associated with stage I internal hemorrhoids can be relieved by cold compress.
Natural remedies for hemorrhoids
Fiber rich diet: Fiber helps to increase the bulk of the stools and also softens the stools. As a result the extent of straining at stools reduces. Fiber even helps to alleviate symptoms such as discomfort, itching and pain. Fruits and vegetables serve as good source of fiber. Many fiber supplements made of natural ingredients such as flaxseeds are also available in the market. They help to reduce discomfort associated with hemorrhoids. Fiber supplements should be taken with plenty of water to prevent worsening of constipation
Use of Bioflavonoids: These are plant compounds that aid in strengthening and stabilizing walls of blood vessels. Bioflavonoids even reduce inflammation, pain, discomfort, bleeding and anal discharge observed in acute form of hemorrhoids. These natural compounds mainly found in citrus fruits serve as best hemorrhoids treatment for pregnant women.
Use of herbs: Herbs such as Butcher’s broom and Horse chestnut treat hemorrhoids effectively. The active compound ruscogen present in Butcher’s broom extracts contributes to the anti-inflammatory and vein conditioning effects of the herb. It can be taken in the form of capsules or in the form of tea by boiling the herb in water for about 10 to 15 minutes. Butcher’s broom extract can also be applied topically at the affected area. This herb should not be taken by pregnant and nursing woman, those suffering with high blood pressure or benign prostatic hyperplasia and also by those taking MAO inhibitor medications or alpha blocker. Similar to ruscogen, aescin present in horse chestnut strengthens the veins and improves blood circulation in veins. Only the seeds and extracts made from bark of young branches of horse chestnut should be used to treat hemorrhoids as other parts of this plant are poisonous.
Triphala: This is a powder made from mixing extract of three different fruits. This natural component helps to relieve constipation.
Which treatment option to choose medical or non medical hemorrhoids treatment?
It is always recommended to choose non medical methods such as change in dietary habits and use of natural herbs to relieve symptoms of hemorrhoids. Medical procedures should be chosen when the pain is unbearable and if there is risk for complications. If you are planning to use natural methods to treat hemorrhoids then you should adhere to strict dietary habits, follow right bathroom habits i.e. avoiding sitting for long time during bowel movement, keeping stress and anxiety under control and practice simple physical exercises.
To initiate right hemorrhoids treatment it is very important for the patient to consult the physician immediately after experiencing some discomfort in the bowel movements. This will increase the odds of fast recovery with very less pain.