Natural Remedies For Hemorrhoids
- By Matthew Solan, Executive Editor, Harvard Men’s Health Watch
Hemorrhoids are painful, unpleasant, and, um, well, difficult to talk about. But they actually are quite common: about half of people over age 50 have had them. However, theyre easy to treat and manage.
Hemorrhoids can be troublesome and embarrassing, but they often shrink on their own with simple self-help care and over-the-counter remedies, says Dr. Howard LeWine, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
How To Treat An External Thrombosed Hemorrhoid
External hemorrhoids come with a great deal of pain and discomfort. To make matters worse, some external hemorrhoids can become thrombosed. A thrombosed external hemorrhoid is an external hemorrhoid that has developed a blood clot.
Thrombosed external hemorrhoids are characterized by their symptoms and their look. They appear as a hard lump that is blue or purple in color. The color is a result of the blood clot.
Thrombosed external hemorrhoids can form as a single pile or a circle of piles. They are classified as grade IV hemorrhoids .
The cause of thrombosed hemorrhoids is not well known.
Some doctors feel that events trigger the development of thrombosed external hemorrhoids:
- Physical exertion
The main course of treatment for a thrombosed hemorrhoid is an external thrombectomy.
The surgical procedure involves placing a small cut in the clot and draining it.
This is most effective when performed within three days.
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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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.
When To See A Doctor
While you can treat hemorrhoids on your own, its important to pay attention to certain symptoms that could call for a doctors appointment.
See a doctor if your hemorrhoids dont get better after a week of treatment or if you experience bloody stools or rectal bleeding. Your doctor will determine if the bleeding is from hemorrhoids or a more serious condition.
Rectal bleeding can happen due to colorectal or anal cancer, especially if its accompanied by changes in your bowel habits, including the color and consistency of your stools.
If you have a hemorrhoid that develops rapidly or is extremely painful, it could be a sign of a blood clot that has developed inside. For the most relief, you must remove the clot within the first 48 hours.
Seek emergency care immediately if you:
- experience severe or long lasting rectal bleeding
- feel light-headed, dizzy, or faint
- have anal pain that gets worse, spreads, or comes with fever, chills, or anal discharge
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What Causes Internal And External Hemorrhoids And Simple Ways To Treat Them
Hemorrhoids are usually caused by increased pressure due to pregnancy, being overweight, or straining during bowel movements. By midlife, hemorrhoids often become an ongoing complaint. By age 50, about half the population has experienced one or more of the classic symptoms, which include rectal pain, itching, bleeding, and possibly prolapse . Although hemorrhoids are rarely dangerous, they can be a recurrent and painful intrusion. Fortunately, there’s a lot we can do about hemorrhoids.
What Are Two Types Of Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids are enlarged, swollen veins in the lowest part of the rectum and anus. These veins bulge and get irritated, especially when the patient defecates, and cause bleeding. Hemorrhoids are also commonly called piles. It is one of the most common causes of rectal bleeding. Hemorrhoids occur in adults. It can cause significant pain and discomfort if left untreated.
There are two types of hemorrhoids:
- Internal hemorrhoids: They are present deep inside the rectum. They are usually not seen externally or felt and are painless.
- External hemorrhoids: They are present under the skin surrounding the anus. They are painful because of the painful, sensitive nerves surrounding the anus.
Hemorrhoids may go away on their own or with home remedies in a couple of weeks. If the hemorrhoids dont improve or the symptoms worsen, it is advised to consult a doctor to seek medical treatment.
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Don’t Make Things Worse
Bump up the fiber. It softens your stools and makes them move through your body more easily. You’ll find it in beans, whole-grain breads and cereals, and fresh fruits and veggies. You may also want to try a supplement if you can’t get enough from foods. Add fiber slowly to help avoid gas and bloating.
Drink lots of fluids. Stay well hydrated to keep stools soft so they’re easier to pass. Water is the best choice. Drink plenty throughout the day. Prune juice is a natural laxative and can help you go.
Exercise regularly. Even brisk walking 20-30 minutes every day can help keep you from getting stopped up.
Breathe! Keep the air moving in and out when you’re working hard. It’s common to hold your breath as you’re pushing, pulling, or making an effort — and that can lead to hemorrhoid pain and bleeding.
Use a pillow. Sit on a cushion instead of a hard surface. It will ease swelling for any hemorrhoids you have. It may also help prevent new ones from forming.
Take breaks. If you must sit for a long time, get up every hour and move around for at least 5 minutes.
Who Is At Risk Of External Hemorrhoids
If your parents have had hemorrhoids, you may be more likely to have them as well. Hemorrhoids may also be more likely to happen during pregnancy.
As we age, hemorrhoids can occur due to increased pressure caused by sitting a lot. And anything that causes you to strain during bowel movements can lead to external hemorrhoids.
A healthcare professional may be able to help you determine the cause of your hemorrhoids.
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Hemorrhoids Wont Go Away But Some Simple Measures Can Help To Prevent And Ease Flare
Not all hemorrhoids cause problems. One study of people undergoing colonoscopy found that more than half of people whose tests revealed hemorrhoids were unaware that they had them. However, when hemorrhoids become inflamed, they can make bowel movements and even sitting quite painful.
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Sitz Bath Can Completely Heal Hemorrhoids
A very simple solution to soothe enlarged hemorrhoids is to use a sitz bath. The journal Women and Birth in 2018 reported that regularly using a sitz bath can heal hemorrhoids. Researchers used 2 groups of women who both took lubrication suppositories before pooping and also a daily fiber supplement. One group used an anorectal cream for hemorrhoids and the other, a sitz bath 3 times a day.16
The result was that the sitz bath group was almost as effective in curing hemorrhoids as the group using anorectal cream.
To make your own sitz bath, fill a bath with water until it reaches your genitals when sitting down. Mix in 20g of salt and sit in the bath for 10 to 15 minutes 3 times a day to treat your hemorrhoids without surgery.
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Apply Witch Hazel On The Hemorrhoids
One of the best ways to get rid of hemorrhoids fast is to apply witch hazel because of its astringent properties.
The book Herbal Medicine says that witch hazel contains high levels of tannins. These astringent compounds help to relieve hemorrhoid symptoms such as itching, irritation, and also soothe inflammation around the anus.4 Witch hazel is used topically to help reduce the size of hemorrhoids and alleviate the discomfort they cause.14
You can apply pure witch hazel to the hemorrhoid using a cotton ball to reduce pain and inflammation. Even if you have large hemorrhoids, witch hazel can help to soothe hemorrhoid pain faster.
Internal Hemorrhoid Itch Relief
Internal hemorrhoids are not often symptomatic. They are in an area of the anus that lacks sensing nerves. Internal hemorrhoids fall into one of four grades based on their severity.
In some cases, internal hemorrhoids become prolapsed.
This means they protrude out of the anus. Because it may be difficult to properly clean yourself after a bowel movement, prolapsed hemorrhoids can become irritated and lead to symptoms such as itching.
The most effective form of treatment for internal hemorrhoid itch relief is over-the-counter suppositories.
A suppository is a capsule-shaped medication that is inserted into the anus. These are primarily used to treat internal hemorrhoids because they are inserting into the anus.
They provide a barrier between the hemorrhoid and stool. Once inserted into the anus, the suppository begins to melt and disperse the medicated ingredients. The rectal muscles hold the suppository in place, pushing the medication further into the anal cavity.
When internal hemorrhoids become prolapsed, they can also be treated by the many of the same treatments for external hemorrhoids:
- Cold compresses
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What Are Common Side Effects Of Hemorrhoid Medicine
Hemorrhoid medications are generally considered safe drugs, however, as with all medications, there is the potential for side effects. If you decide to use a treatment that contains steroids, it is not advised to continue its use for more than one week as it can lead to skin damage.
Here are some side effects to look out for when using hemorrhoid medications, including creams and gels:
- Skin irritation at the site of application
- Rectal bleeding
- Severe irritation inside or around the rectum
- Allergic reaction, including rash, hives, or swelling of the lips
- Increased blood pressure
- Headache, dizziness, and nausea
Although side effects with these medications are rare, and this is not a comprehensive list, please speak to your healthcare provider immediately if you notice any signs of a negative reaction.
How To Cure A Hemorrhoid
- Infrared coagulation – It is done by burning a tissue to cease blood flowing to the hemorrhoid. 5 to 6 sessions are needed. Despite that ads show that it’s not painful, sufferers have said that it’s very painful especially during the session. The hemorrhoids can reappear because the cause isn’t addressed.
- – In order to cut off the supply of blood, elastic band is wrapped around the base of the hemorrhoid. After a couple of days, the hemorrhoids will die and will fall off. After the treatment, the bleeding and pain may be felt. They can reappear since the source of the problem isn’t treated.
- Hemorrhoidectomy – It is a that cuts off hemorrhoids. Statistics reveal that this type of procedure can be dangerous. So serious cases are only suitable for this hemorrhoid procedure. It is suggested as a last resort due to its very painful recovery that the patients go through.
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Do Hemorrhoids Itch When They Heal
Itching can be a sign of the reparative process, and like any other wound, hemorrhoids may also itch as they heal.
Itching can also show signs of infection, so it is wise to keep a close eye on your hemorrhoids as they heal.
Hemorrhoids, however, are more prone to itching during the healing process than other wounds for a variety of reasons, including the bacteria levels in the area.
When cells are exposed to bacteria during the healing process, they release histamine, a substance that is a vital part of the inflammatory response.
Histamine is important because it encourages the production of new skin cells including collagen, which is the primary component of blood vessel walls, but histamine also produces an allergic reaction of sorts that can lead to itching.
Collagen production stimulates nerves enough to create an itching sensation, enhancing the itchiness.
Also, because hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels, as they heal and the blood vessel grows smaller, they can leave behind a skin tag of stretched skin.
That skin tag can continue to cause itching, especially if it protrudes in such a way that it can lead to pruritus ani or an infection that slows the healing process.
Are There Natural Treatments For Hemorrhoids
First, some very good news: Neither type of hemorrhoid is dangerous, and severe complications that require medical care are rare. Symptoms often can be relieved by trying a few natural and self-care treatments.
- Draw a sitz bath. To relieve itching and irritation, fill a tub with three to four inches of warm water and sit in it with your knees bent for about 10 to 15 minutes. Gently pat yourself dry with a towel, but dont rub the area.
- Take fiber supplements.These draw water into your stool and make it easier to pass, helping to reduce hemorrhoid bleeding and inflammation. A psyllium husk fiber supplement, like Metamucil or a generic version, is a good choice. If psyllium causes gas or bloating, try a supplement with wheat dextrin or methylcellulose .
- Ease discomfort. Apply over-the-counter products that shrink the inflamed tissue and relieve itching. Try pads infused with witch hazel , or soothing creams that contain lidocaine, hydrocortisone, or phenylephrine .
You can also take steps to prevent flare-ups.
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Turmeric For Thrombosed Hemorrhoids
Although most thrombosed hemorrhoids are treated by a medical provider, some people choose to take a natural approach.
Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory spice that has antibacterial properties and can help heal hemorrhoids when used topically.
Since most thrombosed hemorrhoids are treated with surgical procedures, this option has been known to be effective after your procedure.
Turmeric can reduce pain after hemorrhoid treatment when you add it to your diet.
Is Metamucil Rated Better Than Benefiber
Looking to the reviews is one of the crucial aspects of finding any perfect product. Customers on sites like Amazon are not shy about hiding how they feel about a product, the good and the bad. Reviews are a place of honest feedback that can guide you in deciding between two competing brands, like Metamucil and Benefiber.
For starters, Metamucil has a slew of products on sites like Amazon, Walmart, Target, and a variety of different drug stores, however, its most reputable product is fiber supplement powder, specifically in orange-smooth. This flavored fiber pulled in 339 total reviews on Amazon with an overall rank of 4.5 stars out of 5.
In slight contrast, Benefiber accumulated a total of 365 Amazon customer reviews, achieving the same overall rating as Metamucil, 4.5 stars out of 5. Unlike its competitor, Benefiber went the route of tasteless instead of adding flavoring into its powder.
With Metamucil and Benefiber neck-and-neck as far as amassed customer reviews and overall rating is concerned, how are you to know which product is better? The answer lies in the grey area of personal preference. Do you lean towards a fiber supplement with a fruity flavor? Or do you prefer it to be as if it isnt in your beverage at all?
Ultimately, it appears as if Benefiber does pull ahead of Metamucil in the realm of customer ratings and reviews. Stopping over at Walmarts site to view these products indicate that Benefiber has collected nearly 4,000 reviews and rated 4 out of 5 stars.
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What Are The Best Home Remedies For Hemorrhoids
If youd prefer to avoid medication, or youd like to complement your treatment with at-home remedies, here are some ways you can alleviate your hemorrhoids at home:
- Sitz baths: A regular sitz bath can relieve itching and irritation. Fill a tub with three to four inches of warm water and sit in it with your knees bent for about 10 to 15 minutes. Gently pat yourself dry with a towel afterwards. For an extra soothing effect, try adding Epsom salts to the bath.
- Fiber supplements: These reduce hemorrhoid bleeding, inflammation, and enlargement by drawing water into your stool to make it easier to pass. A psyllium husk fiber supplement, such as Metamucil or a generic equivalent, is a good choice, although psyllium may cause gas or bloating. In that case, try a supplement containing wheat dextrin or methylcellulose .
- Cold compress: Applying ice packs to the anus for 10-15 minutes can help reduce swelling and reduce discomfort. To avoid ice burns always place ice in a cloth or paper towel, and never apply it directly to the skin.
- Aloe vera: Aloe vera has been used in many cultures for centuries to treat hemorrhoids due to its believed anti-inflammatory properties. Given the sensitivity of the area, only use pure aloe vera to treat hemorrhoids, and perform a patch test 24-48 hours on your inner wrist prior to application to check there is no allergic reaction.