General Surgery

How to Get Rid of Hemorrhoids

Man holding toilet paper roll in bathroom

It might seem like a sensitive subject, but hemorrhoids are nothing to be embarrassed about. In fact, more than 3 million Americans get hemorrhoids every year – or about 50 percent of people over the age of 50, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“Hemorrhoids are very common but it’s important to make sure hemorrhoids are treated properly so you don’t develop complications, or your pain gets severe,” says William Hackworth, M.D., gastroenterologist with Riverside Health System.

What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids occur when the veins around your anus or in your lower rectum become inflamed and swollen. They are also called piles. There are two types of hemorrhoids: external and internal hemorrhoids. Symptoms of hemorrhoids can vary based on the type of hemorrhoids you have.

Symptoms of external hemorrhoids include:

  • Itching around the anus
  • Tender, hard lumps near the anus
  • Pain or ache around the anus, especially when sitting

Internal hemorrhoid symptoms include:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Prolapsed hemorrhoid (bulges outside the anus)

What causes hemorrhoids?

The most common cause of hemorrhoids is straining during bowel movements. Other causes of hemorrhoids include:

  • Sitting on the toilet for too long
  • A diet that is low in fiber
  • Chronic constipation or diarrhea
  • Aging
  • Pregnancy
  • Lifting heavy objects

How are hemorrhoids treated?

There are many effective treatments for hemorrhoids, beginning with home remedies.

Treating hemorrhoids at home

A diet high in fiber is often the first step in helping treat hemorrhoids at home. Fiber helps make it easier for the body to pass softer stool, which causes less strain and pain. Your physician may also discuss these other home remedies:

  • Take a stool softener or fiber supplement.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Try not to strain during bowel movements.
  • Take a warm bath to relieve pain.
  • Avoid sitting on the toilet for too long.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers.
  • Try over-the-counter creams or ointments.

Surgical treatment for hemorrhoids

Today, many minimally invasive surgical options are available to treat hemorrhoids. Your physician will refer you to a surgeon if conservative treatments don’t address your symptoms or if you aren’t a candidate for in-office procedures.

Common surgical procedures to treat hemorrhoids include:

  • Hemorrhoidectomy. Large external hemorrhoids or prolapsed hemorrhoids may need to be removed by a surgeon.
  • Hemorrhoid stapling. A special stapling tool can remove internal hemorrhoids and pull prolapsed hemorrhoids back into the anus.

“If you struggle with recurrent hemorrhoids, talk to your doctor about ways you can treat and prevent them,” says Dr. Hackworth.

Need a doctor? Find a Riverside gastroenterology provider near you.

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