What is a hemorrhoid?
Hemorrhoids are enlarged, bulging blood vessels in and about the anus and lower rectum. They can be internal or external and can cause pain and bleeding, especially during bowel movements. There is no definitive cause of hemorrhoids, although aging; chronic constipation or diarrhea and even pregnancy are known to be contributing factors.
What is the treatment for hemorrhoids?
Mild symptoms can be relieved by changes in diet. Increasing the amount of fiber in the diet (fruits, vegetables, breads and cereals), and increasing water intake, can result in less difficult bowel movements, eliminating excessive straining. In addition, over-the-counter pain relievers are suggested.
With these measures, the pain and swelling of most symptomatic hemorrhoids will decrease in two to seven days, and the firm lump should recede within four to six weeks. In cases of severe or persistent pain from a thrombosed hemorrhoid, your physician may elect to remove the hemorrhoid containing the clot with a small incision. Performed under local anesthesia as an outpatient, this procedure generally provides relief.
Severe hemorrhoids may require special treatment, much of which can be performed on an outpatient basis:
Ligation - A small band is placed over the hemorrhoid, cutting off its blood supply. The hemorrhoid and the band fall off in a few days and the wound usually heals in one to two weeks.
Injection and Coagulation - Relatively painless and cause hemorrhoids to shrivel up.
Hemorrhoid Stapling - A special device is used to internally staple and excise internal hemorrhoidal tissue. This method may lead to shrinkage but does not remove external hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoidectomy - Surgery to remove the hemorrhoids - removes the excessive tissue that causes the bleeding and protrusion. Hemorrhoidectomy is necessary when: clots repeatedly form in external hemorrhoids; ligation fails to treat hemorrhoids; the protruding hemorrhoid cannot be reduced; or there is persistent bleeding.