Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are an incredibly common medical condition and yet it is something which is rarely talked about. It is believed that 50% of Americans have this condition by the time they reach the age of 50 and yet only 500,000 of these people seek medical help for the problem. Of these, between 10 and 20% require surgery to have their hemorrhoids removed.
Hemorrhoids are caused by the veins in the rectum and anus becoming swollen and inflamed. The location of the piles can be internal or external and the symptoms vary dependent on this. If the hemorrhoids are internal, they can go undetected as pain receptors are not present internally. The only evidence of the problem can be blood in the bowel movements as they pass through the area. External piles are widely known to resemble a bunch of grapes and can be extremely painful for the sufferer. Of the two types, it would appear that internal hemorrhoids are the better of the two to have as you may not even know it. However, external piles can be easily treated whereas internal piles, when left undetected, can result in more serious complications.
If an internal hemorrhoid becomes severely distended over time it can be pushed out of the anus and so be visible externally. This is very unpleasant as it means that the internal passage is obstructed, making passing bowel movements difficult and painful. This is called prolapsed hemorrhoids. Once this has happened it is quite common for the anus to spasm and the sphincter can then trap the prolapsed hemorrhoid outside of the body. This then prevents the blood supply from reaching it and it becomes a strangulated hemorrhoid.
Causes of hemorrhoids can be due to genetic tendency or environmental factors. Some people are born with weak veins in their rectum and so there is little they can do to prevent it from happening. However, for others there are more wide ranging reasons behind the condition.
Pregnancy is widely acknowledged to exacerbate the prevalence of hemorrhoids. During childbirth itself, the excessive straining can cause the problem to occur. This can also be the case when straining forcefully whilst in the bathroom. This can be prevented by increasing fibre in the diet, upping your water intake and reducing that of diuretic drinks. A diuretic generally contains caffeine and this actually dehydrates the body by the intake of the fluid. It is also recommended that you do not sit on the toilet for longer than necessary, for example if you are reading in the bathroom. The position in which you sit on the toilet can also increase the problem.
Many people find that outbreaks of piles can be treated by undertaking the same habits as I suggested to prevent them in the first place. Topical creams are also available which can soothe the area and encourage a reduction in the swelling. Once the swelling has gone down, the hemorrhoids are able to retreat back into the body. However, should these treatments not work within a matter of days, or should you experience prolonged or regular bouts of haemorrhoids you should seek medical attention from your doctor.