Hemorrhoids are an extremely common condition, and one that can often be successfully treated. While they may vary in severity and longevity of symptoms, hemorrhoids can ultimately have serious effects on a person’s day-to-day life. One of our experienced doctors here at Suburban Surgical Care Specialists/Kane Center can evaluate your concerns and talk with you about potential treatment options.
- What Are Hemorrhoids?
- Hemorrhoid Causes
- Internal vs. External Hemorrhoids
- How to Get Rid of Hemorrhoids Without Surgery
- Hemorrhoid Treatment Options
What Are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are enlarged, swollen, or irritated bundles of blood vessels in and around the anal area. The condition can be characterized by either internal hemorrhoids (inside the anus) or external hemorrhoids (outside or under the skin around the anus). In some cases, patients may suffer from both internal and external hemorrhoids. Typically, external hemorrhoids often cause pain and swelling as a result of a blood clot, while internal hemorrhoids tend to cause painless bleeding and protrude with bowel movements.
What Causes Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids can be caused when extra pressure is put on veins and blood vessels of the anus or rectum. The condition is very common in both men and women. The following list includes just a few of the factors that may lead to hemorrhoids:
- Long-term constipation
- Chronic diarrhea
- Bowel irregularities
- Pressure on the pelvic area during pregnancy
- Excessive straining from childbirth, bowel movements, and/or lifting heavy objects
- Long periods of sitting, especially on the toilet
- Weakened supportive tissues due to aging or genetics
Most people with hemorrhoids have some type of rectal bleeding. This rectal bleeding cannot be presumed to be secondary to hemorrhoids alone without performing some type of screening examination, such as a colonoscopy.
Internal vs. External Hemorrhoids
Internal and external hemorrhoids can be distinguished by where they develop in the anal canal and rectum, and usually display different symptoms. A professional examination by your physician of the anus and rectum will help to determine what type(s) of hemorrhoids may be present.
Internal hemorrhoids are located inside the wall of the rectum, which contain less pain fibers, and may not be seen or felt unless provoked by straining or irritation. If internal hemorrhoids become reactive, it may result in painless, bright red bleeding during a bowel movement. Pain and discomfort from internal hemorrhoids typically occurs when the hemorrhoid pushes through the anal opening and bulges out from the anus, which is known as a prolapsed internal hemorrhoid.
External hemorrhoids are on the outside, under the skin around the anus. The most common symptoms of external hemorrhoids may be itching and irritation in the anal region, soreness, discomfort, swelling around the anus, difficulty wiping after a bowel movement, and spotting of blood. If a blood vessel in the external hemorrhoid becomes injured and forms a clot, it can lead to a thrombosed hemorrhoid, resulting in a hard, painful lump near the anus with severe pain and inflammation.
How to Get Rid of Hemorrhoids Without Surgery
During an evaluation by a physician at Suburban Surgical Care Specialists/Kane Center, a customized plan will be created based on symptoms, type of hemorrhoids, age, overall health, and severity of the condition. Hemorrhoids are often treated initially with conservative therapy such as a high-fiber diet (whole grains, vegetables, and fruit) including supplemental fiber, sitting in warm-water baths (sitz baths) several times a day, and increasing fluid intake. Increasing fiber and fluids may help to soften stools and ease straining during bowel movements, which can help to reduce pressure placed on hemorrhoids. If these measures do not relieve symptoms, there are many additional options available for the treatment of hemorrhoids.
How Are Hemorrhoids Treated?
For cases that may require medical or surgical treatment, as determined by a physician at Suburban Surgical Care Specialists/Kane Center, there are options to help remove or alleviate internal and external hemorrhoids. A few of these methods include:
Ligation with Rubber Bands
Rubber band ligation, also known as hemorrhoid banding, places one to three rubber bands around the base of an internal hemorrhoid to restrict circulation and stop blood flow to the hemorrhoid. This process is intended to “dry up” the hemorrhoid, so it shrivels and falls off on its own within about one to two weeks, usually during a bowel movement. Ligation with rubber bands is a minimally invasive treatment that can be performed in-office at Suburban Surgical Care Specialists/Kane Center.
Excision of External Hemorrhoids
For external hemorrhoids, an in-office procedure known as an excision can be performed under local anesthesia to remove the affected hemorrhoidal tissue. The excised area is then closed with sutures and the patient is typically able to recover at home. Generally, excision of external hemorrhoids is well tolerated with prescribed pain medication as needed. Most patients are able to resume activities in a few days.
Infrared coagulation, sometimes referred to as IRC, is another minimally invasive option used to treat small to midsize internal hemorrhoids. IRC is a virtually painless procedure that utilizes a special device to direct a beam of infrared light to the affected area, halting blood supply to the hemorrhoid tissue, which causes the hemorrhoids to shrivel up.
For more severe or larger-type cases of hemorrhoids, a surgical hemorrhoidectomy may be recommended. This can be done with conventional techniques, and recently, the use of a Harmonic scalpel has been employed to perform the surgical hemorrhoidectomy. A Harmonic scalpel coagulates the tissue without the use of heat and cuts through the tissue with the use of a fast vibrating blade. Using the Harmonic scalpel in hemorrhoidectomies has decreased the amount of post-operative pain and decreases the time needed for recovery after surgery.
Although these methods can be a permanent solution for removing current hemorrhoids, they will not prevent future hemorrhoids from developing, so it is important to be mindful of straining habits and being sure to consume adequate amounts of fiber and fluids.
If you have questions about hemorrhoids and potential treatment options, or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact our office today.