Hemorrhoids are swollen veins found externally or internally around the anus. They are caused by increased pressure on the pelvic and rectal veins and are related to constipation, diarrhea and straining to pass a stool.  Many people will experience hemorrhoids at some point in their lives, and the condition can be an uncomfortable one. The good news is, there are ways to prevent and treat most cases of hemorrhoids that will reduce the chance that they will return and address the pain associated with them.
Edit Recognizing the Signs of Hemorrhoids
- Look for blood. The most common symptom is bleeding during a bowel movement. You may notice blood on the toilet paper or in the toilet bowl. 
- This can be a symptom of several different problems. If you notice blood in your stool, it is a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor.
- Notice itching. Hemorrhoids can also be itchy and painful. If you have persistent itching or pain around your anus, this is a sign you may have hemorrhoids. 
- Feel for external hemorrhoids. You may actually feel an external hemorrhoid (one on the outside of the anus) when cleaning yourself. It will likely be a tender swelling around the anal opening. 
- In general, internal hemorrhoids are too far inside the anus, so you will not feel them under usual conditions. They can bulge through the anal opening though. 
- See a doctor. A physician can diagnose internal or external hemorrhoids by performing a rectal exam. If your symptoms are persistent and not relieved by the measures below, it is a good idea to seek treatment. It it is possible your condition is more serious. 
- If rectal bleeding is not caused by a hemorrhoid, your doctor will likely recommend a more extensive test called a sigmoidoscopy or a colonoscopy. These tests check for colon cancer. 
Edit Treating Hemorrhoid Symptoms
- Try a stool softener. Internal hemorrhoids often end up requiring professional medical treatment. There are, however, a number ways you can ease the discomfort of hemorrhoids while waiting for them to heal. One of these is to take herbs that soften your stools, thus making them easier to pass.
- Use stool softeners like senna tablets or senna teas (flavored with honey and lemon if you prefer). You can also try psyllium fiber as found in Metamucil. TM 
- Use the “breath push” method. When you visit the restroom, allow gravity to do most of the work. You can avoid straining by using a “breath push” method to move things along.
- Sit up straight on a toilet before starting the bowel movement. Take the deepest breath you can and let your abdomen expand. This allows the diaphragm to drop and allows you to fill yours lungs as much as possible.
- Hold the full breath. Then, when you are ready, imagine that as you exhale that the breath is pushing out the stool. This does take some practice, but it does work.
- Continue using the “breathe push” method as long as the hemorrhoids persist, or as long as you need to, to reduce the pain.This method reduces strain and can help you relax. Used regularly, it can also help avoid recurring problems with hemorrhoids.
- Treat the area. After a bowel movement, try a Sitz bath, warm compresses, aloe vera gel or Preparation H TM to help soothe and heal the hemorrhoid.
- For a Sitz bath, use about a cup of Epsom salts for a full tub of water. If you use only a few inches of water, 2-3 tablespoons of Epsom salts is enough. Keep the water warm (but not hot ) and sit in the tub for 10-15 minutes. After the soak, pat dry yourself gently or use a hair dryer on a low setting. Try to repeat this two to thee times every day. 
- Your local pharmacy may also have a basin that fits over the toilet which may be easier for you.
- To treat with a warm compress, get a clean, cotton wash towel and soak it in warm (not hot) water. Apply the compress for about 10-15 minutes, three times a day. Some find it helpful to apply ice for a few minutes first. 
- Once you have soaked and are dry, use a small amount of aloe vera gel or Preparation H TM to help with hemorrhoidal pain and / or discomfort. Preparation H TM ointment contains petroleum jelly, mineral oil, shark liver oil and phenylephrine. Phenylephrine acts as a decongestant and helps shrink the hemorrhoid. Aloe vera gel contains components that inhibit infection and help in healing minor wounds. 
- You can also use a cotton pad soaked in witch hazel after a bowel movement. Witch hazel acts as an astringent and can help reduce the swelling. 
- Try a medication. If the suggestions above do not end the discomfort, you may want to try an over-the-counter medication. There are several options that may be helpful.
- You can try placing glycerin suppositories into the rectum. These can help lubricate the area and reduce discomfort. Use these after a bowel movement, because they can also stimulate the urge to pass stool. Only use these for a week to 10 days . Longer use can damage the anal area and lead to other problems. 
- You can also lubricate the anal area with petroleum jelly or ointments containing zinc oxide (eg Desitin).
- Another option is to try ointments containing 1% hydrocortisone. Hydrocortisone is a steroid that can help reduce inflammation and itching. Again, stop use after a week to 10 days, as longer use can damage the skin in the anal area and lead to other, more serious problems. 
- Ask your pharmacist for help finding an over-the-counter local anesthetic.The pharmacist may recommend a cream or ointment such as Aveno Anti-itch, Nupercainal, Solarcaine, or Lidoderm. These products can numb the pain, but check with your doctor first. They can sometimes interact with other medications you may be taking. 
- You can also try using over-the-counter pain relievers. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve) can all provide temporary relief. 
- Consider surgery. If none of these approaches are helping, or if your hemorrhoids are internal, you may need to seek surgery for the condition. Talk to your doctor about your options.
- Medical treatment may involve an injection to reduce the size of the hemorrhoid. It can also include banding to shut off the blood supply, or cauterization to sealing off the hemorrhoid. In some cases, you may need surgery to remove large hemorrhoids. 
Edit Preventing Hemorrhoids
- Eat more fiber Eating foods that are high in fiber is a simple way of decreasing the likelihood of hemorrhoids  In particular, the following foods are good high-fiber options:. 
- Berries and other fruits, especially those with an edible skin, such as apples and grapes.
- Dark, leafy green vegetables like collard, mustard, and beet greens, as well as Swiss chard.
- Other vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, carrots, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, artichokes and green beans.
- Beans and other legumes such as kidney, navy, garbanzo, pinto, lima, and white beans, as well as lentils, and black eyed peas.
- Whole, unprocessed grains. An easy rule of thumb is that if it is a light color or white, it is probably processed. Cereals like granola tend to have the highest fiber. If you are buying boxed cereals, read the label to make sure your choice is high in fiber.
- Seeds and nuts such as pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, or flax seeds, as well as almonds, walnuts and pecans.
- Avoid problem foods. While foods that are high in fiber can help prevent hemorrhoids, other foods may make them more likely to occur.
- Try to avoid “junk food” such as chips and other unhealthy snacks as much as possible. This is a good choice in general, but when you eat processed or salty junk food, you also increase the risk of hemorrhoids. 
- Avoid spicy foods. Many spices may feel just as “spicy” on the way out as they do on the way in. 
- Drink more water. Increasing the amount of water you consume helps to keep stools soft. This reduces the amount of strain needed to pass stools. 
- Experts do not have a hard and fast rule about how much water you should drink each day. The most common recommendation is to drink about eight 8-ounce glasses. Use that as a starting point and find what works best for you . 
- You do not need to train for a decathlon. Increasing your exercise can be as simple. Just choose a parking space further away from your destination, or walk to the corner store more often.
- Even simply decreasing the amount of time you spend sitting can be helpful. If your work allows it, get up every half hour or so and walk around a bit. 
- Many pregnant women experience hemorrhoids. In addition to the prevention tips listed already, try sleeping on your side, as this tends to lower the pressure in the pelvis. You may want to also increase the fiber in your diet and talk to your doctor about a safe stool softener for you. 
- Avoid lifting anything heavy when you have hemorrhoids. If you must do so, lift with your legs, exhaling as you lift. 
- As you use the toilet, avoid straining. Leave yourself enough time and try to let your bowels (and gravity) do the work. 
- Do not stay on the toilet too long. Remember, avoid unnecessary sitting! If you do not get results right away, you will later. Be patient.
- People who are overweight tend to be at higher risk for hemorrhoids. The good news is that if you incorporate the diet and lifestyle tips given here, there is a good chance that you will lose some weight.
- Talk to a physician before trying NSAIDs, topical (on the skin) steroids, or topical anesthetics. All of these can interact with other medications and should not be used longer than 7 to 10 days, unless your physician has suggested otherwise.
- If you continue to have problems, see your physician.Left untreated over a long period of time hemorrhoids can cause the loss of enough blood to make you anemic.
- Be aware that for some, the foods recommended here may increase intestinal gas. In such a case, shop your local health food store for digestive enzymes. These are the same types of enzymes your body uses to break down food into smaller parts . They can help you absorb nutrients better reduce gas.
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