It is believed that 75 percent of people will experience hemorrhoids at least once in their lifetime. It is a common condition that can be the cause of a great deal of discomfort. Hemorrhoids can become so painful that they interfere with the ability to live a normal life. Even sitting down can be a problem. Excessive consumption of alcohol has been closely linked with the development of hemorrhoids and the exacerbation of symptoms.
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins that appear in the anus or rectum. They occur where there is excessive pressure in the veins. This pressure causes the veins to swell up and this leads to pain. These are the most common types of hemorrhoids:
* A prolapsed hemorrhoid occurs when the swollen vein protrudes into the anal cavity.
* Internal hemorrhoids do not usually cause much pain, but they can bleed.
* External hemorrhoids are nearer the surface of the skin, tend to itch and can cause a great deal of discomfort.
Symptoms of Hemorrhoids
The symptoms of hemorrhoids include:
* Itching around the anal area, which can become quite intense at times
* Pain when passing feces, which may continue to last after the bowel movement
* The appearance of bright-red blood on toilet paper when wiping
* Detection of lumps (caused by prolapsed veins) in the anal area
* Pain around the anal area, which will be exacerbated by sitting down
* Difficulty finding a comfortable position in bed at night due to anal discomfort
Causes of Hemorrhoids
These are some of the most common causes of and contributors to hemorrhoids:
* Straining too much when opening the bowels
* Drinking too much alcohol or caffeine
* Developing liver cirrhosis
* Sitting for too long each day
* Being overweight
* Chronic diarrhea
* Sitting on the toilet for too long
* Age-related weakening of connective tissue in the anal area
* Excessive heavy lifting
* Constipation due to a poor diet or not drinking enough fluids
* A low-fiber diet
* Any type of infection of the anal area
* Standing still for too long
* Genetic predisposition
Dangers Associated with Hemorrhoids
Most people who develop hemorrhoids will not develop any serious complications as a result. The problem will usually resolve itself within a short time, and individuals who make suitable lifestyle changes may never have to deal with the problem again. These are some of the dangers associated with hemorrhoids:
* Hemorrhoids sometimes bleed, there will only be a few drops of blood. Rarely, the blood loss can be more severe and may lead to iron deficiency anemia. In such a situation, the individual may require a blood transfusion.
* Clots developed as a result of their hemorrhoids can lead to tissue damage. If the clot prevents blood from reaching the affected area, local tissue will die. If a clot develops, it may be necessary to remove it surgically.
Alcohol and Hemorrhoids
There is a link between alcohol and hemorrhoids. Those who drink excessively will usually experience problems with their bowel movements. This is because alcohol acts as a diuretic, which means that it dehydrates the drinker. A person who is dehydrated may subsequently become constipated, and they will need to strain when opening their bowels. Binge drinking can also raise blood pressure, which in turn adds pressure to the veins in the anal area. Alcoholism leads to alcoholic liver disease, and this also increases the likelihood of developing hemorrhoids.
Liver Cirrhosis and Hemorrhoids
Those individuals who have developed liver cirrhosis are more at risk of developing hemorrhoids. This is because scarring of the liver prevents the free passage of blood. The blood returning to the heart from the lower part of the body needs to find alternative pathways, and this adds pressure to the veins in the anal area. If the pressure becomes too much, it can lead to hemorrhoids.
Treatment of Hemorrhoids
There are a number of treatment options available for people who are dealing with hemorrhoids:
* In most instances the individual will be able to deal with the problem using over-the-counter medication. There are hemorrhoid ointments then can lessen the intensity of the discomfort. It might also be necessary to take some stool softeners. Some people benefit from corticosteroid creams, as these can reduce inflammation and pain.
* If intense pain is due to a prolapsed vein, it might be possible to gently push this vein back into place.
* It is recommended that people avoid spicy food if they have hemorrhoids because this can exacerbate symptoms.
* Ice packs can relieve some of the swelling.
* People should avoid scratching the anal area as this just makes things worse.
* Sitting in a warm bath can help to ease the symptoms of discomfort and itchiness.
* If the individual is dealing with severe pain or too much bleeding, it may be necessary to perform surgery. This is a relatively straightforward procedure that involves putting a special rubber band around the hemorrhoid. This starves the hemorrhoid of blood so that falls away.
* Sometimes it may be necessary to inject a special chemical into the hemorrhoid. This causes it to die. This treatment is known as sclerotherapy.
How to Prevent Hemorrhoids
These are some of the steps that people can do to reduce their risk of developing hemorrhoids:
* Eating a high-fiber diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, as this makes bowel movements easier lessens the need to strain when on the toilet
* Not waiting too long when time to open their bowels
* Using a stool softener when constipation is an issue
* Reducing sitting-down time when appropriate by taking standing breaks or even using a stand-up desk
* Drinking plenty of water to reduce the risk of developing constipation.
* Exercising regularly
* Taking care not to strain too hard when sitting on the toilet
* Staying within the safe limits of alcohol consumption. This means consuming no more than one alcoholic drink per day for women and those over 65 years of age, or no more than two drinks per day for men. For these recommendations, a drink refers to a glass of wine, a shot of spirits or a standard beer.
* Avoiding drinking too many caffeinated beverages, as these can cause constipation