Haemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels on the inside or outside of the anus. This swelling is the result of increased pressure on the veins near the anus. This can be caused by:
- Holding a stool in for too long.
- Squeezing too hard while passing a stool.
- Frequent and violent coughing.
- Pregnancy or childbirth.
- Standing for too long.
- Being overweight.
- A lack of exercise.
- A lack of fibre in your diet.
Haemorrhoids are generally harmless, but they can cause unpleasant symptoms. Anyone can get them, but they are most common in people over the age of 50.
Haemorrhoids can result in you suffering from:
- Itching near your anus.
- Blood loss. Either while wiping your buttocks or spontaneously.
- Mucus from your anus.
- Burning around your anus.
- Pain and pressure around your anus. This is what happens when the haemorrhoid hangs out.
- The feeling that something is coming out of your anus.
- Difficulty wiping your buttocks.
- Difficulty sitting.
To prevent or treat haemorrhoids, it’s best to:
- Drink 1 to 2 litres of water every day. This will make your stool softer and you therefore won’t need to strain as hard. This will put less pressure on your anus, resulting in less of a chance of developing symptoms.
- Make sure you get plenty of exercise. Walk or cycle for at least half an hour every day.
- Go to the toilet as soon as you need to. Don’t hold in your stools.
- Eat a high fibre diet. This will keep the stools soft.
- Reduce caffeine, tea and soft drinks. These will cause more itching and irritation around the anus.
- Regularly take a bath. The warm water will relax your anus and relieve the pain and burning.
- Use a wet cloth when wiping your buttocks. Damp toilet paper, on the other hand, is not recommended, because it often contains perfume. This, in turn, can cause more irritation and itching.
- Use a remedy for haemorrhoids. Examples include: lidocaine zinc sulfate cream, vaseline cetomacrogol cream, zinc oxide suppositories and lidocaine vaseline cream. These products are available from the chemist and pharmacy. Obtain good advice and read the package leaflet before using these products.
You can also reduce the pain by gently pushing the protruding haemorrhoid back in.
Haemorrhoids will usually go away on their own. However, sometimes the symptoms don’t disappear and you should contact your GP if:
- You’re unsure of the cause of the blood or mucus loss. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have haemorrhoids. It can also be caused by another condition.
- The pain keeps getting worse or doesn’t go away.
- You’re also concerned about symptoms other than the ones mentioned above.
Your GP will subsequently determine the cause of the symptoms. He or she will refer you to the hospital in case of serious or long-lasting symptoms. You can have your haemorrhoids operated on there. There are various methods for this, including:
- The HAL/RAR operation. The blood vessels in the anus are closed and the protrusions are pulled in. This method can make you feel like you need to go to the bathroom more often during the first few days after surgery. This will disappear by itself.
- A rubber band ligation. This is where a small elastic band is placed around the inside of the anus. This will stop the haemorrhoid sinking down and will subsequently die after a few days. The elastic band will then come out again with your stool.