Ease Painful And Irritating Symptoms With These Otc Products
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Verywell / Sabrina Jiang
Hemorrhoids, a painful condition involving swollen veins in the rectum and anus, occur when the veins in your rectum become swollen from too much pressure, like if you sit for a long time, strain during bowel movements, or are pregnant. Hemorrhoids will go away once the pressure is lifted. But they can be painful and itchy, so really what youre treating with over-the-counter remedies are the symptoms, says colon and rectal surgeon Tracey Childs, M.D., chief of surgery at Providence Saint Johns Health Center in Santa Monica, CA. But there isnt one treatment or miracle compound thats going to take care of the issue, she says.
Important note: There are a lot of other conditions that have symptoms similar to hemorrhoids. If the pain, swelling, bleeding, or constant need to strain dont get better after a few days, go to the doctor, Dr. Childs adds.
Here are the best over-the-counter hemorrhoid treatments on the market.
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Apple Cider Vinegar On External Hemorrhoids Does It Work
Apple Cider Vinegar has been known to relieve the symptoms of external hemorrhoids. A topical solution of apple cider vinegar can reduce the symptoms in a few weeks. When applied to the affected area two or three times a day, it can temporarily reduce the symptoms of swelling and irritation.
It should be noted apple cider vinegar is not a solution and will only provide temporary relief. Be careful as well! Apple cider vinegar can burn very bad and be harmful if too much is applied or it is ingested. Do not use if you haven’t spoken with your doctor.
When To Consider External Hemorrhoid Removal
The removal of external hemorrhoids depends mostly on their size and severity. In many cases, over-the-counter and at-home treatments are sufficient enough to reduce the swelling and provide relief from external hemorrhoids. These methods include:
- Sitz baths
- Over-the-counter creams, ointments, and wipes
- Bowel habit improvement
- Prescription creams, ointments, and suppositories
In some cases, more aggressive medical treatment is required. Patients who do not respond to over-the-counter, or even prescription, treatments may need to seek the assistance of their medical provider.
There are several minimally invasive procedures that can be performed in a doctorsâ office without anesthesia. These include the rubber band ligation, sclerotherapy, and infrared coagulation.
For severe cases, your medical provider may need to perform an external hemorrhoidectomy. This is performed in a hospital under anesthesia. Your doctor will make an incision in the hemorrhoid, draining it. Your hemorrhoid will then be stitched, and you will be sent home the same day for recovery.
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Hemorrhoid Remedies You Can Try On Your Own At Home
There are several steps you can take at home to ease the discomfort caused by hemorrhoids:
- Take a sitz bath two to three times daily for 15 to 20 minutes. Sit in warm water, covering just your hips and buttocks. This can help reduce itching and irritation. You can take a sitz bath in a few inches of water in a regular tub, but small tubs that fit over toilet seats are also available for this purpose at pharmacies. Following a sitz bath, gently pat the area dry to avoid further irritation.
- Use ice packs on the area to relieve swelling and pain.
- Don’t push too hard or strain while passing a bowel movement.
- Clean your anus after each bowel movement by gently patting with moistened pads, such as baby wipes. Using hard, dry toilet paper, which may contain fragrance, can cause further irritation.
- Keep the area clean by bathing or showering daily with warm water. After bathing, gently pat the area dry. You can even use a hair dryer to dry the area.
- Sit on cushions rather than hard surfaces to help lessen the swelling of hemorrhoids and keep new ones from forming.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or aspirin as needed.
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How A Doctor Can Help
Doctors can recommend medical treatments and procedures that can reduce or get rid of hemorrhoids. Some of these procedures can be done right in a doctors office and involve very little discomfort.
- Medicated creams/ointments. If an OTC hemorrhoid cream isnt enough, doctors can prescribe stronger creams and ointments.
- Minimally-invasive procedures. There are some minimally-invasive procedures that a doctor can do in their office or in an ambulatory surgery center that typically doesnt require anesthesia or long recovery times. Some of these procedures include rubber band ligation, sclerotherapy injections, and laser/infrared coagulation treatments.
- Thrombectomy. For severe cases that develop blood clots and cause a lot of pain, your doctor can perform an external hemorrhoid thrombectomy to remove the hemorrhoid. Thrombectomies are most effective when performed no more than 72 hours after severe symptoms emerge.
- Surgery. There are several surgical options available when other treatments and procedures havent worked or if you have very large hemorrhoids. If youve struggled to find relief, talk to your doctor to learn if surgery is right for you.
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Warm Bath With Epsom Salt
Warm baths can help soothe irritation from hemorrhoids. Try using a sitz bath a small plastic tub that fits over a toilet seat so you can just immerse the affected area or take a bath in a tub, if you can.
Try a warm bath or a sitz bath for 20 minutes after each bowel movement. Adding Epsom salt to the bath can provide further relief by reducing pain.
Acutely Thrombosed External Hemorrhoids
Acutely thrombosed external hemorrhoids often develop in patients with acute constipation, or those with a recent history of prolonged straining. A painful bluish-colored lump at the anal verge is a paramount finding .3B). The severity of pain is most intense within the first 24-48 h of onset. After that, the thrombosis will be gradually absorbed and patients will experience less pain. As a result, surgical removal of acute thrombus or excisional hemorrhoidectomy may be offered if patients experience severe pain especially within the first 48 h of onset. Otherwise, conservative measure will be exercised including pain control, warm sitz baths, and avoidance of constipation or straining. A resolving thrombosed external hemorrhoid could leave behind as a residual perianal skin tag -which may or may not require a subsequent excision.
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How To Remove External Hemorrhoids Without Surgery
Although some external hemorrhoids will require surgery, there are many ways to treat hemorrhoids without surgery.
Focusing on your hygiene is one way to relieve hemorrhoids.
Thoroughly cleaning your anus after a bowel movement, avoiding straining during bowel movements, and regular use of a stool softener can help with the healing process.
Keeping a close eye on your eating and drinking habits can help as well. You should have a healthy, balanced diet that is rich in fiber. Additionally, you should drink the right amount of water daily to keep yourself hydrated. Avoid prolonger periods of sitting as well.
Symptoms Of Thrombosed External Hemorrhoids
External hemorrhoids can be felt as bulges at the anus, but they usually cause few of the symptoms that are typical of internal hemorrhoids.
External hemorrhoids can cause problems, however, when blood clots inside them. This is referred to as thrombosis. Thrombosis of such a hemorrhoid causes an anal lump that is
- very painful,
- tender, and
- often requires medical attention.
The thrombosed hemorrhoid may heal with scarring, and leave a tag of skin protruding in the anus. Occasionally, the tag is large, which can make anal hygiene difficult or irritate the anus. Even after such a hemorrhoid goes away, a residual skin tag may remain, and this may need to be surgically removed.
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What Should You Know About Hemorrhoids
What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are blood vessels located in the smooth muscles of the walls of the rectum and anus. They are a normal part of the anatomy and are located at the junction where small arteries merge into veins. They are cushioned by smooth muscles and connective tissue and are classified by where they are located in relationship to the pectinate line, the dividing point between the upper 2/3 and lower 1/3 of the anus. This is an important anatomic distinction because of the type of cells that line hemorrhoid, and the nerves that provide sensation.
What are the internal and external hemorrhoids?
Internal hemorrhoids are located above the pectinate line and are covered with cells that are the same as those that line the rest of the intestines. External hemorrhoids arise below the line and are covered with cells that resemble skin.
What are the symptoms of hemorrhoids?
When Hemorrhoid Surgery May Be Necessary
Very few people fewer than 10 percent of all adults who see a doctor because of symptomatic hemorrhoids will require a surgical operation.
Surgery to remove hemorrhoids is called a hemorrhoidectomy.
Your doctor may recommend a hemorrhoidectomy if:
- You have large external hemorrhoids
- You have both internal and external hemorrhoids
- An internal hemorrhoid has prolapsed
In a hemorrhoidectomy, the doctor makes a small incision to remove the hemorrhoid and surrounding tissue before closing the wound with stitches.
A hemorrhoidectomy is performed in an operating room and can be done under general anesthesia, in which you are unconscious and unable to feel pain.
It can also be done with a spinal anesthetic block while you are awake , or with a combination of relaxing and sedating drugs given intravenously and a local anesthetic injected around the anus.
Hemorrhoidectomy is associated with postoperative pain, but the procedure is successful for 95 percent of cases.
More recently, another option aimed at avoiding the postoperative pain of a hemorrhoidectomy has become available, called a stapled hemorrhoidopexy. A circular stapling device pulls the hemorrhoidal tissue upward and to its normal position, stapling it in place. The staples eventually fall out over time.
There are many options for the treatment of hemorrhoids. Its best to discuss the benefits and risks of each of these with your doctor in order to come up with the treatment plan that is best for your particular case.
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What Gets Rid Of External Hemorrhoids
Sometimes, getting rid of external hemorrhoids is as simple as increasing your water intake and adding fiber to your diet.
If you experience constipation, a stool softener can help rid the occurrence of external hemorrhoids.
Other things you can do to get rid of them is limit the amount of time you sit on the toilet and refrained from holding in bowel movements.
Practice good hygiene and be sure to keep the area around your anus clean.
If you are prone to get external hemorrhoids, try using moist hemorrhoid wipes to clean your anus after you pass a bowel movement.
Using a sitz bath or sitting in a warm tub can help alleviate irritation from external hemorrhoids.
You may also use over-the-counter medications to ease discomfort and reduce swelling.
If you are prone to external hemorrhoids and they become increasingly painful or uncomfortable, or you notice continuous bleeding, you may want to talk to a doctor about more advanced treatment options.
What Is The Difference Between Internal And External Hemorrhoids
Internal hemorrhoids and external hemorrhoids are different for many reasons. These reasons include, severity, symptoms, and treatment. Internal hemorrhoids donât have many symptoms because of their location. They are far enough inside of the rectum that they canât be felt or seen. The only sign of these may be hemorrhoid bleeding.
External hemorrhoids are under the skin around the anus. Because of their location, external hemorrhoids tend to come with a great deal of symptoms. They are in an area that has more pain-sensing nerves present. That is why hemorrhoid pain is more intense with external hemorrhoids. Check out this blog post for information on how to relieve hemorrhoid pain.
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Contemporary Pathophysiology Of Hemorrhoids
The exact pathophysiology of hemorrhoids is poorly understood. Currently, hemorrhoids is the pathologic term describing symptomatic and abnormally downward displacement of normal anal cushions. As a result of destructive changes in the supporting connective tissue and abnormal blood circulation within anal cushions, the sliding anal cushions embrace abnormal dilation and distortion of hemorrhoid plexus. A recent study of morphology and hemodynamic of arterial supply to the anal canal revealed a hyperperfusion state of hemorrhoidal plexus in patients with hemorrhoids, suggesting the dysregulation of vascular tone within hemorrhoid tissue. Moreover, it was evident that hemorrhoidal tissue contained some inflammatory cells and newly-formed microvessels. For circumferential prolapsing hemorrhoids, these might be related to an internal rectal prolapse. In conclusion, although the true pathophysiology of hemorrhoid development is unknown, it is likely to be multifactorial – including sliding anal cushion, hyperperfusion of hemorrhoid plexus, vascular abnormality, tissue inflammation and internal rectal prolapse . The different philosophies of hemorrhoid development may lead to different approaches to the treatment of hemorrhoids.
How Can I Prevent Hemorrhoids
Lifestyle and dietary changes are the best way to prevent hemorrhoids. Staying physically active and eating a nutritious, balanced diet help keep your bowel movements regular.
Eat lots of high fiber foods and drink plenty of water to keep the digestive process moving correctly and prevent constipation. Regular exercise and avoiding sitting for long periods of time can also help prevent hemorrhoids.
The most effective way to avoid constipation is to go to the bathroom when you first feel the urge. Delaying a bowel movement allows the bowel to reabsorb water from the stool. This makes stool harder when you finally do go.
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How Are Bleeding Hemorrhoids Treated At Home
A bleeding hemorrhoid is usually a sign of irritation or damage to the wall of the hemorrhoid. This should resolve on its own over time, but there are several things you can do at home to speed up the process and soothe any discomfort.
However, if theres no clear source of bleeding or if the bleeding doesnt go away within a week, see your doctor.
Experts note that hemorrhoids are often self-diagnosed, which can be dangerous. Many medical conditions, including cancer and inflammatory bowel disease , can have similar symptoms. For this reason, its important to receive a proper diagnosis from your doctor.
If you have been diagnosed with a hemorrhoid thats itchy or painful, start by gently cleaning the area and reducing inflammation. These strategies can help:
Next, try to soften your stools to keep your digestive system in good working order and reduce your risk of further irritation or damage to a bleeding hemorrhoid. Here are some tips:
If youre still noticing blood or a lot of discomfort after a week of home treatments, you may need to revisit your doctor for additional treatment.
If home treatments arent providing any relief, there are several surgical treatments that can help. Many of them can be done in the office and dont require general anesthesia.
If your bleeding hemorrhoids are larger or more severe, your doctor may recommend more advanced treatment, such as more extensive surgery.
What Is A Bleeding Hemorrhoid
Some people see blood in their stool, in the toilet, or after a bowel movement. The amount of blood is usually small, and it is bright red. The most common reason for rectal bleeding is hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are swollen, irritated veins in and around the anus. About 50% of Americans experience hemorrhoids by the age of 50:
Bleeding hemorrhoids are veins in and around the anus that swell and become irritated until they bleed. If you have bleeding hemorrhoids, you might experience symptoms like:
- Skin tissue bulging from the anus
- Leaking feces and difficulty cleaning after using the bathroom
Hemorrhoids are usually caused by:
- Prolonged sitting every day
Bleeding hemorrhoids may be painful, but they usually go away on their own. However, in some cases symptoms dont go away and can get worse. If this is the case, contact your doctor.
Severe pain and bleeding may be happening because of something more serious. Its important to have your doctor complete an evaluation to determine the underlying cause of your rectal bleeding.
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Gradually Increase Your Fiber Intake
Most of us dont get in enough fiber everyday, but adding more high-fiber foods like beans, broccoli, whole grains, and fresh fruit to your diet can help you avoid constipation and stay regular. This in turn reduces the chances that youll find yourself straining and further irritating your hemorrhoids, says Dr. Thomas. Aim for 20 to 30 grams of fiber a day, and consider taking a fiber supplement that contains psyllium or methylcellulose to help you hit your daily goal. If youre typically low on fiber-rich foods, though, take your timesuddenly upping your intake may make you gassy.
How Are External Hemorrhoids Diagnosed
To diagnose external hemorrhoids, a doctor will ask about your health history and symptoms. They will also likely do a physical exam.
In the case of external hemorrhoids, they will generally be able to see the hemorrhoids by examining the area around your anus.
They may also perform a digital rectum exam and anoscopy to check for issues inside your anal canal and rectum, including internal hemorrhoids.
During a digital rectal exam, your doctor will insert their gloved, lubricated finger into your anus. Theyll be able to feel abnormalities inside.
During an anoscopy, the doctor will insert a device called an anoscope into your rectum that allows them to see abnormalities.
If you also have rectal bleeding, your doctor will likely request that you get a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy to rule out colorectal cancer. These methods will also detect any internal hemorrhoids.
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