Although we often associate hemorrhoids with pregnancy, virtually anyone can develop hemorrhoids. Men and women alike develop this unwelcome, bothersome and painful condition. Hemorrhoids are inflamed, swollen veins around the rectum or anus that can become itchy, tender and even bleed. Other causes of hemorrhoids include straining from constipation or heavy lifting, obesity, aging, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s disease. The only cause that is gender specific is pregnancy! Since a larger percentage of men do manual labor than women, the numbers might be almost evenly split. Here are a few frequently asked questions when it comes to hemorrhoids.
Q: How do I know that I have a hemorrhoid?
A: There are two types of hemorrhoids: internal and external hemorrhoids. External hemorrhoids will feel like a soft lump around your anus. In some cases, the hemorrhoid can become hard from a blood clot. Internal hemorrhoids are usually not painful because there are few nerve endings in the colon and anus. However, internal hemorrhoids can bleed, become irritated and even prolapsed.
Q: What are some common hemorrhoid treatments?
A: Mild cases of hemorrhoids can be treated with sitz baths, medicated creams and wipes, ice packs and lying on your side. For chronic hemorrhoids, your doctor may suggest one of many treatments. Ligation involves banding the hemorrhoid to cut off blood supply. Infrared coagulation (IRC) uses a infrared light to harden the veins around the hemorrhoid, and sclerotherapy uses a chemical solution to shrink the hemorrhoid.
Q: How can I prevent hemorrhoids?
A: Some simple ways to avoid hemorrhoids are drinking plenty of water, increasing fiber intake to 35 grams per day (for men), exercising regularly and avoiding prolonged episodes of sitting or standing.
Q: If I have had hemorrhoids before, will they come back?
A: Once you develop hemorrhoids, they are likely to return. Swollen veins make the lining of the blood vessels less elastic, so those same veins can easily become swollen again. That is why it’s so very important to prevent hemorrhoids through hydration, fiber and exercise.