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How to ease hemorrhoid pain

Hemorrhoids are a problem for many Americans. Most of the time hemorrhoid symptoms go away in a few days. But recurring cases may require surgical treatment.

None of us even wants to think about hemorrhoids. But many of us will have them at some time in our lives.

Hemorrhoids are blood vessels inside or around the anus that become swollen and stretched from pressure. There are two types:

External hemorrhoids occur in veins on the outside of the anus.

Internal hemorrhoids occur in veins inside the anus. They can sometimes stretch enough to reach outside the anus, in which case they are called prolapsed hemorrhoids.

Straining during bowel movements can cause hemorrhoids, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Other factors that can lead to hemorrhoids include:

  • Pregnancy.
  • Age.
  • Chronic constipation.
  • Diarrhea.

Having hemorrhoids

Most cases of hemorrhoids don't pose a serious threat to your health. And though the symptoms can be uncomfortable, they usually go away within a few days.

Not everyone who has hemorrhoids knows it. When symptoms do occur they can include:

  • Bright red blood in a bowel movement.
  • Irritation, itching or pain in the anus.
  • Swelling.
  • A hard lump near the anus.

Hemorrhoids share the same symptoms with more dangerous health problems such as colorectal cancer. If you have symptoms, talk to your doctor. An exam should show whether or not hemorrhoids are the cause.

Ease the itching and burning

Since most cases of hemorrhoids go away in a few days, treatment often focuses on simply easing symptoms.

To ease hemorrhoid symptoms, follow these tips from the American Academy of Family Physicians:

  • Take warm baths.
  • Carefully clean your anus after each bowel movement by patting it with moist toilet paper or moistened pads, such as baby wipes.
  • Use ice packs to ease swelling.
  • Relieve pain with aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • Apply a hemorrhoid cream to help with itching or pain. Be sure to follow directions.

Don't use hemorrhoid medicine without talking to your doctor first.

Keep hemorrhoids away

Hemorrhoids go away easily. But they also come back easily.

To help keep hemorrhoids away, your doctor may recommend that you avoid the need to strain during bowel movements by keeping stools soft. You can help do this by exercising regularly, eating high-fiber foods—such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains—and drinking lots of fluids.

It may also help to empty your bowels as soon as you have the urge and to avoid sitting on the toilet for a long time.

Hemorrhoid surgery

Surgical techniques are sometimes needed to treat hemorrhoids that keep coming back. Some of the techniques used to shrink and destroy hemorrhoids include:

Rubber band ligation. Doctors place a rubber band around the base of the hemorrhoid to cut off its blood supply. Without blood, the hemorrhoid withers away.

Sclerotherapy. Doctors inject a chemical solution around the affected area that will help shrink the hemorrhoid.

Infrared light. A special device burns hemorrhoids away.

Hemorrhoidectomy. The most serious hemorrhoids may need surgical removal.

Reviewed 6/16/2020

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