Haemorrhoids are swollen veins in the rectum. They can cause itching, bleeding, and pain. Haemorrhoids are very common.
In some cases, you can see or feel haemorrhoids around the outside of the rectum. In other cases, you cannot see them because they are hidden inside the rectum.
Haemorrhoids do not always cause symptoms. But when they do, symptoms can include:
- Itching around the anus
- Bleeding – Bleeding is usually painless. You might see bright red blood after using the toilet.
- Pain – If a blood clot forms inside a haemorrhoid, this can cause pain. It can also cause a lump that you might be able to feel.
You should meet a doctor if you have any bleeding. Bleeding could be caused by something other than haemorrhoids, so you should have it checked out.
If you do have haemorrhoids, your doctor can suggest treatments. But there some steps you can try on you your own first.
The most important thing you can do is to keep from getting constipated. You should have a bowel movement at least a few times a week. When you have a bowel movement, you should not push too much. Plus, your bowel movements should not be too hard.
Being constipated and having hard bowel movements can make haemorrhoids worse. Here are some steps you can take to avoid getting constipated or having hard stools:
- Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and other foods with fiber. Fiber helps to increase bowel movements.
You need 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day to keep your bowel movements regular. If you do not get enough fiber from your diet, you can take fiber powders, wafers, or pills. These include psyllium seed (sample brand names: Metamucil, Konsyl), methylcellulose (sample brand name: Citrucel), polycarbophil (sample brand name: FiberCon), and wheat dextrin (sample brand name: Benefiber) (table).
- Take medicationsnamed “stool softeners” such as docusate sodium (sample brand names: Colace, Dulcolax). These medicines increase the number of bowel movements you have. They are safe to take and can prevent complications later.
You can soak your buttocks in two or three inches of warm water. You can do this up to 2 to 3 times a day for 10 to 15 minutes. Don’t add soap, bubble bath, or anything to the water.
There are also medicines like creams or ointments that you rub on your anus to relieve pain, itching, and swelling, which you can get without a prescription. Some haemorrhoid medicines are available in a capsule (called a suppository) that you can put inside your rectum. Others come in a cream that comes in a bottle with a nozzle that you put inside your rectum. It is OK to try these medicines. But do not use medicines that have hydrocortisone (a steroid medicine) for more than a week, unless your doctor approves.
If you still have symptoms after trying the steps listed above, you might need treatments to destroy or remove the haemorrhoids.
One popular treatment for haemorrhoids inside the rectum is called “rubber band ligation.” For this treatment, the doctor ties tiny rubber bands around the haemorrhoids. A few days later the haemorrhoids shrink and fall off. Doctors can also use lasers, heat, or chemicals to destroy haemorrhoids. But if none of these options works, your doctor might suggest surgery to remove the haemorrhoids. Haemorrhoids on the outside of the rectum can only be removed with surgery.