Hemorrhoids: What you want to know but don’t want to ask
Although it’s rarely the topic of polite conversation, it appears that Americans are itching to know more about hemorrhoids. It was the top trending health issue on Google in 2012, and the National Institutes of Health estimates that 75% of people will develop hemorrhoids at some point in their lives. If you have questions about hemorrhoids, we have the answers.
“Increased pressure in the veins around the anus or lower rectum, often from straining during bowel movements, can cause the blood vessels to become swollen or inflamed,” says Ali Mahmood, M.D., board certified colorectal surgeon on staff at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. “Pregnancy, age, obesity, chronic constipation or diarrhea, and sitting on the toilet too long can contribute to hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids may be internal and form inside the rectum, or external (located near the anal opening). Prolapsed hemorrhoids occur when they stretch outside of your anus.”
Internal hemorrhoids may cause bleeding but are usually painless, while external and prolapsed hemorrhoids can cause pain, itching, irritation and sometimes bleeding.
Several at-home remedies may help relieve symptoms, and hemorrhoids often subside on their own after a week or two. Applying hemorrhoid creams, soaking in warm water and cleaning the area with a wet cloth can help improve comfort. “If symptoms persist, we can help,” says Dr. Mahmood. “Medical treatments include ligation, cutting off the blood flow to the hemorrhoid using a small rubber band; sclerotherapy, injecting a chemical to shrink the hemorrhoid; and coagulation, using heat to reduce its size. Surgical removal, called hemorrhoidectomy, may be an option for especially large, persistent or prolapsed hemorrhoids.”
The key to preventing most cases of hemorrhoids is to avoid constipation. These tips can help:
• Eat a diet high in fiber.
• Drink a lot of fluids.
• Exercise and avoid sitting for long periods of time.
• Use bulk-forming laxatives and fiber supplements when necessary.
If you’re concerned about bleeding, or discomfort continues or worsens after at-home treatment, call 281.274.7500 to make an appointment with Dr. Mahmood or another colorectal surgeon in your area.
Join them on Thursday, March 27, for a free Colorectal Cancer Awareness Seminar presented by Dr. Ali Mahmood, Colorectal Surgeon; Dr. Jorge Darcourt, Hematologist/Oncologist and Dr. Nitesh Vachhani, Gastroenterologist.
Attendees will receive a free colorectal screening kit to take home. The presentation starts at 6:30 p.m. and will be held at Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital’s Conference Center. Call 281.274.7500 or register online at houstonmethodist.org/events to reserve a seat.
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