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About Hemorrhoids

Digestion, Constipation, Diarrhoea | February 16, 2017 | Author: Naturopath

diarrhoea, bowel, Digestion

About Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are one of the most painful, uncomfortable and inconvenient lesions that a person can experience, like sitting on a cactus. They can make normal daily activities such as sitting, walking or sitting on the toilet a cause for unbearable pain. Hemorrhoids or Piles, as they are more commonly known, are inflamed blood vessels around the anus or the lower rectum. These swollen blood vessels can either be internal to the anal and surrounding tissue or external to it.

Internal hemorrhoids are located within the inner lining of the rectum and will usually go unnoticed or felt. The exception is when the case the internal hemorrhoids push through the anus, which can then cause itching and pain.

External hemorrhoids are found on the outer surface of the rectal area. The hemorrhoids will be located just beneath the skin’s surface and will cause much more pronounced symptoms such as pain, itching and may bleed during a bowel movement. There are also thrombosed external hemorrhoids which occur when there is a clotting of blood within one or more of the blood vessels that are already swollen at the rectal area. Thrombosed external hemorrhoids cause significant pain and swelling.

 Pathophysiology

Sinusoids are normal blood vessels that are located within the walls and surrounding structures of the rectum and the anus. These are normal hemorrhoids that are usually present within the anal and rectal area.

A number of possible factors may however lead to an increased venous pressure within the sinusoid blood vessels, which will cause the hemorrhoids to become inflamed and dilated as it becomes increasingly difficult for blood to drain. 

Common causes

Factors that may contribute to an increase in venous pressure within the sinusoid blood vessels are varied, but all relate in one way or the other to the lower abdomen and other surrounding tissues and structures being strained. These factors can include:

Straining – abnormal bowel movements; either constipation or diarrhea, may lead to excessive straining during bowel movements. This will cause increased pressure on the hemorrhoidal blood vessels.

Sitting – prolonged sitting without getting up to mobilize, such as being desk bound, may cause increased pressure on the sinusoid blood vessels.

Lack of exercise - a sedentary lifestyle will lead to a number of factors that all contribute to hemorrhoids such as compromised blood flow and constipation.

Lower fiber diet – a diet that is low in fiber may cause constipation, leading to straining during bowel movements.

Health conditions that commonly cause hemorrhoids, either directly or as a secondary cause, include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Obesity
  • Colon cancers
  • Liver disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Anal intercourse
  • Spinal cord injury

Symptoms of hemorrhoids

The symptoms associated with uncomplicated hemorrhoids are usually directly related to or affecting the anus and rectal area. Although quite rare, symptoms of anemia such as weakness and dull skin may begin to present at some or other stage due to blood loss associated with hemorrhoids. The most common symptoms of anemia are:

  • Extreme itching around the anus
  • Irritation and pain around the anus
  • Itchy or painful lump or swelling near the anus
  • Fecal leakage
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Blood stains on the tissue after bowel movements

Natural remedies for hemorrhoids

Normally, hemorrhoids are uncomplicated enough that they simply resolve on their own without any medical intervention necessary.

Should hemorrhoids present moderate to serious discomfort or outright hazard to health, some medical intervention may be necessary such as surgery or prescription medications to ease pain and/or treat lesions. As primary intervention care, the following therapies and remedies can be beneficial as treatments for hemorrhoids.

Diet

The Diet is one of the most important steps to treating and preventing hemorroids. 

Since the diet directly affects the quality, quantity and other vital properties of stools, it is important to ensure that you are consuming a diet that is both nutritious as well as maintaining consistent and healthy bowel movements. Eat the same foods regularly.

Foods to include in a healthy diet to improve and maintain good bowel movements are:

  • Whole wheat
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables and leafy greens
  • Lean meats
  • Rice
  • Water

A balanced diet that helps to treat, manage and prevent issues with hemorrhoids should include healthy sources of probiotics from foods such as Sauer Kraut, yoghurts  and other fermented foods.
If taking probiotics through conventional diet is not a possible, it may be helpful to take probiotic supplements.

Exercise

A sedentary lifestyle may contribute to a variety of factors that ultimately lead to or cause hemorrhoids. These factors include those such as constipation, increased lower abdominal pressure, among others. Incorporating mild to moderate exercises into a regular exercise regime should help to ease hemorrhoids by relieving pressures off the anal and rectal area. Good examples of exercises are:

  • Cardio (running, walking, skipping, cycling, aerobics)
  • Pilates
  • Yoga
  • Mild to moderate interval training

Herbs and supplements

Herbs that have anti-inflammatory and astringent properties are especially ideal for treating hemorrhoids. These will work on related tissues and blood vessels to shrink the hemorrhoids. Anti-inflammatory herbs can help to reduce the swelling both internally as well as externally, while the herbs with astringent properties would tighten the damaged tissues and reduce bleeding.

Ideal herbs for treating hemorrhoids include:

  • Psyllium husks
  • Horse Chestnut
  • Witch Hazel
  • Aloe vera
  • Slippery elm

Psyllium Husk

Psyllium husk is a good source of soluable fibre which can soothe the digestive track and help prevent constipation
Including psyllium in the diet can ease symptoms of hemorrhoids by softening the stools, thus taking the pressure off from the anus during bowel movements.

Soaking

Not only can soaking in warm water help to provide instant relief from pain and discomfort caused by hemorrhoids, it can actually help to reduce the swelling and relax the blood vessels. Soaking in a sitz bath for 15-20 minutes at a time will reduce uncomfortable symptoms.

Cold compress

Cold compresses work to shrink hemorrhoids so that they effectively become smaller. It also reduces pain and relieves itching almost instantly.

To do a cold compress, tightly wrap a few ice blocks in a clean cloth and apply it directly to the hemorrhoids or soak a cloth in witchazel and compress. Over time, regular cold compresses constrict blood vessels and reduce hemorrhoids.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Pure, natural apple cider vinegar is very effective treatment for hemorrhoids, especially those that are external.
Although it may cause a momentary stinging sensation, applying the vinegar directly to the hemorrhoids with a cotton ball will not only give instant relief from pain and itching but will also reduce swelling and thereby reduce the hemorrhoids.Taking a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar with water daily can help reduce pain and bleeding associated with internal hemorroids. 

Hydration

Hemorrhoids can be worsened by local dryness.

Dryness may even cause bleeding due to the scratches that may result from using dry toilet tissue.

It is better to use non-medicated, non-perfumed wet wipes to wipe the area. 

Applying vitamin E oil at the opening of the anus can help to rehydrate the area, reduce swelling and ease pain and discomfort. This is ideal after soaking in warm water, wiping or cleaning the anus. 

Don't forget to drink plenty of water too to keep the bowel well hydrated. 

Essential Oils

Essential oils with anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties can by useful to help to treat hemorrhoids. Adding one or two drops of relevant essential oils to a carrier oil such as castor oil or sweet almond oil to apply directly to the hemorrhoids will reduce the size and aid healing. Good examples of essential oils that are especially beneficial for treating hemorrhoids include:

  • Tea tree oil
  • Lavender oil
  • Rosemary oil

Seek medical care

Medial care should be sought if bleeding from the anus becomes profuse as other causes of rectal bleeding could be the cause. Urgent medical care may be necessary if a person experiencing symptoms is taking anticoagulation medication.  Associated symptoms of lightheadedness, weakness and/or abdominal pain should be immediately dscussed with a medical professional.

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References

Gurland, B. (2014, May 20). 4 simple ways you can prevent hemorrhoids. 
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2014/05/4-simple-ways-to-prevent-hemorrhoids/

Hemorrhoids and what to do about them. (2016, January 27). 
http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsweek/Hemorrhoids_and_what_to_do_about_them.htm

Hemorrhoids. (2013, November). 
 http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/hemorrhoids/Pages/facts.aspx

Lohsiriwat, V. (2012, May 7). Hemorrhoids: From basic pathophysiology to clinical management. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 18(17); 2009-2017. 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3342598/

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2016, September 29). Hemorrhoids. 
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hemorrhoids/home/ovc-20249172

Pico, M. F. (2015, September 26). Nutrition and healthy eating. 
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/fiber-supplements/faq-20058513

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