Hemorrhoids

What are they?

Hemorrhoids are enlarged veins in the area around the anus. The symptoms of hemorrhoids are: itching, bleeding during bowel movements, burning, and a feeling that your bowel is not completely emptied. Less commonly, hemorrhoids also cause pain.

Who gets hemorrhoids?

Nutrition

Hemorrhoids have been shown to be quite common in individuals consuming a low-fiber diet and, conversely, less common in individuals consuming a high-fiber diet. Increasing the amount of fiber in your diet will help you achieve a soft stool that is easy to pass. Whole-grain cereals and bran are the richest sources of fiber, but fiber is also available in many other foods. Fruits, vegetables and nuts are good examples. Foods to be avoided include highly refined cereals such as white rice and farina, as well as pies, cakes, spaghetti and other pasta. It is important to note that a high-fiber diet also won’t produce a soft, bulky stool unless taken in conjunction with plenty of fluids. Lots of plain water is suggested, but fruit juices, coffee, tea, soft drinks and other beverages are also acceptable.

Bowel Movements

You should avoid straining during a bowel movement since straining can cause a flare-up. Additionally, you should avoid spending too much time on the toilet. Sitting on the toilet for prolonged periods can aggravate hemorrhoids or produce fissures (thin cracks in the skin) surrounding the anus. Promptly heed the urge to go to the toilet. Delaying this dries the stool, making it harder, more compact, and difficult to evacuate.

Treatment

A stool softener or bulking agent may treat severe constipation temporarily. Many brands are available in the pharmacy, although most health care providers prefer for you to eventually adjust your diet to include more fiber and not rely on medications to bulk or soften the stool artificially.

Warm water sitz baths are another effective measure your doctor may recommend. Soaking the anal area for 20 minutes 2-3 times a day may provide some relief of pain and itching. Adding Epsom salts to the water will help increase pain relief and reduce swelling. You should not use a washcloth to cleanse the rectal area; instead, pat yourself dry with a towel. Suppositories are usually recommended for internal hemorrhoids. Anorectal creams and ointments are usually recommended for external hemorrhoids.

The anorectal area should be kept clean at all times. Following a bowel movement, do not wipe yourself clean with a dry toilet tissue; it may add to the irritation and discomfort. The objective is to treat the area gently. Instead, wipe carefully with a cooling, soothing pre-moistened pad to remove any fecal residue. Then pat the area dry with soft toilet tissue or absorbent cotton.

 



The information provided above is for educational purposes only.  Please do not use this information to diagnose yourself.  If you have further questions or concerns about this topic or any others, please contact a Campus Health Service provider at (520) 621-9202.