Hemorrhoids are quite common among Americans. Around 50 percent will have had some form of hemorrhoids by the age of 50. Most cases are easily treated and less than 10 percent of cases require surgery.
Hemorrhoids often vanish, even without treatment, in a few days.
Over-the-counter hemorrhoid treatments can often be used to relieve mild discomfort, including pain, swelling, rawness and anal itching when wiping following a bowel movement.
Products such as creams, pads, and ointments that contain hydrocortisone, witch hazel, or other ingredients to alleviate itching and soreness, can be obtained at a nearby pharmacy. Products containing acetaminophen or ibuprofen can also be taken orally for pain associated with hemorrhoids.
In addition to over-the-counter products, certain home remedies and practices are further recommended to ease hemorrhoid symptoms. The anal area should be kept clean and dry.
Use of perfume and alcohol free moistened toilet paper or towelettes following a bowel movement will cleanse and ease the pain of wiping the inflamed area. Regular soaks in warm baths or sitz baths help to relieve inflammation and keep the anus and surrounding area clean. Ice packs can also be used to numb aching hemorrhoids.
Over-the-counter products and self-care practices only alleviate the symptoms of internal or external hemorrhoids and are not a cure. If hemorrhoids persist, causing severe pain, bleeding, or symptoms that are not relieved within a few days of self-treatment, a trip to your doctor’s office will be necessary.
Minimally invasive procedures can be performed in a doctor’s office. A blood clot in an external hemorrhoid can be removed easily, giving the sufferer quick relief.
Other hemorrhoid treatments, such as laser therapy or rubber-band ligation, aim to cut off the blood supply to the hemorrhoid, causing it to shrivel and drop off, thereby providing relief within a few days.
Only in extreme cases, such as large hemorrhoids or when other treatments are ineffective, is more invasive surgery required. Daily, repeated practices of bodily and anal hygiene can help prevent recurring hemorrhoids.
Avoid straining during a bowel movement and drink adequate fluids each day to keep stools soft. A high-fiber diet acts as a stool softener as well and will reduce gas and bloating.
Always make time for a bowel movement as soon as the urge presents itself. Waiting can make stools harder, making them more difficult to pass. Regular exercise and loss of excess weight will also ease factors contributing to hemorrhoids.