A Complete Guide to Hemorrhoids: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment Options

A Complete Guide to Hemorrhoids: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment Options

Hemorrhoid Treatment Guide

Hemorrhoids can be unpleasant and embarrassing, but if you struggle with this condition, you certainly aren't alone. Over 10 million Americans suffer from hemorrhoids each year.

However, only about a quarter of sufferers see a doctor. That's too bad because medical treatments can not only ease symptoms but also return anal tissue to a healthy state.

I encourage you to seek help for your hemorrhoid troubles. Read on to learn the basics. Then, consult a doctor for more information on laser hemorrhoid removal or other treatment options.

Hemorrhoid Symptoms

Spotting blood on your toilet paper can be shocking and scary. When you see it, your mind may race with all the possible causes. There's a good chance, though, that your bleeding is caused by a common condition: hemorrhoids. Bleeding during bowel movements is one of the most common symptoms of hemorrhoids.

Hemorrhoids can also be itchy and irritating. Some hemorrhoids are painful or cause a feeling of general discomfort.

Types of Hemorrhoids

There are two main types of hemorrhoids. External hemorrhoids are around the outside of the anus. Internal hemorrhoids are inside the rectum.

Internal hemorrhoids are classified into four stages. As the stage numbers increase, not only do symptoms worsen, but the necessary treatment also intensifies.

  • Level One: These are the smallest internal hemorrhoids. They protrude from the anal wall into the anal canal.

  • Level Two: As hemorrhoids become more severe, they begin to prolapse. In other words, the tissue extends out of the anal opening. At this stage, the hemorrhoids prolapse during bowel movements but go back into place afterward.

  • Level Three: By this level, the prolapsed tissue returns to its rightful place only when manually pushed back.

  • Level Four: These are the most severe internal hemorrhoids. They are permanently prolapsed and cannot be reduced.

Hemorrhoid Causes

Everyone has vein-filled tissues along the walls of the rectum that provide cushion and assist in proper anal function. These clusters of veins are normal and necessary.

The problem comes when too much pressure is placed on these veins, which causes them to bulge and protrude. This is the condition commonly known as hemorrhoids.

The pressure can come from a variety of sources. Pregnancy or being overweight can exert undue pressure on the rectum. Complications associated with constipation can also lead to hemorrhoids.

As people age, they are more likely to get hemorrhoids because muscle and tissue tone decrease with time.

Learn more about how hemorrhoids develop in the video below:

Hemorrhoid Treatments

Whatever the cause, if you are experiencing the troubling symptoms of hemorrhoids, you want to find relief.

Treatment approaches change based on the severity of your hemorrhoids. While mild symptoms may warrant simple lifestyle changes, serious prolapses require a more intense approach, such as laser hemorrhoid removal.

Lifestyle Changes

Initial treatment for hemorrhoids usually involves lifestyle changes and symptom management. Level one hemorrhoids are the most likely to respond to this approach.

Lifestyle changes center around reducing constipation and encouraging regular bowel habits. Patients should eat a high-fiber diet that is rich in whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. A fiber supplement may be recommended.

Drinking plenty of water and getting regular exercise can also encourage regular bowel movements. Trying to use the toilet at a regular time each day can help the body develop a healthy rhythm.

When flare-ups occur, soaking in a sitz bath, applying anesthetic creams and wiping with witch hazel pads can provide relief.

Keep in mind, though, that hemorrhoids are a chronic condition. Lifestyle changes can relieve symptoms for a time, but the hemorrhoids are likely to flare up again. However, maintaining a hemorrhoid-reducing lifestyle even when you are not currently experiencing symptoms can help reduce the likelihood of a flare-up.

Hemorrhoid Banding

First-, second- and even some third-degree hemorrhoids can be treated with a minimally invasive procedure known as rubber band ligation. With this treatment, a doctor inserts a special device, such as a Hemorrhoid Banding Ligator, into the rectum.

The hemorrhoid is gently drawn away from the rectal wall so a rubber band can be applied over it. The band cuts off the blood supply to the hemorrhoid so it withers. Within one to two weeks, the hemorrhoid falls off, and the band and tissue are eliminated from the body.

Hemorrhoid Laser Procedure

Hemorrhoids that are level three or level four require either surgical removal with a blade or, more recently, a laser hemorrhoid removal procedure.

Hemorrhoidectomy procedures, in which the offending tissues are surgically cut off, were once commonplace treatments for these serious hemorrhoids. However, today's laser treatments require almost no opening of the tissue.

Hemorrhoidectomy via a soft tissue diode laser procedure involves penetrating a hemorrhoid with a thin laser fiber. The laser goes right into the hemorrhoid to target it from within.

A surgeon inserts the sterile laser fiber into the tissue of the hemorrhoid before beginning its light pulses. The internal location of the laser allows the device to specifically target the hemorrhoidal tissue. Coagulation of the hemorrhoid by the laser energy shrinks the hemorrhoid.

The blood supply to the enlarged tissue is cut off, so the tissue will shrink and recede. Within a few days, patients should begin to notice a reduction in bleeding from their hemorrhoids.

Because this surgery requires only a single, tiny prick of the tissue, recovery time is minimal. By keeping the tissue intact, laser procedure, in most cases, offers long-term positive outcomes, less patient discomfort, faster healing and avoids some of the negative outcomes that can be associated with traditional surgical procedures.

The swollen blood vessels of a hemorrhoid cause discomfort and bleeding. Their severity dictates their proper treatment.

  • Mild hemorrhoids can often be managed through diet and lifestyle.

  • Rubber band ligation can remove the hemorrhoid tissue of level one and two hemorrhoids.

  • Advanced Hemorrhoid Laser Procedure penetrates a level three or four hemorrhoid to treat it from within.

Comment below with your questions about the right treatment for your hemorrhoids.

Brian Chandler