Hemorrhoids are one of the most common gastrointestinal issues in the world, affecting as much as 50% of the population by the age of 50. People with this condition may suffer from pain, bleeding, leakage of stool, inability to control bowels, and other symptoms which can be severe. Yet despite how common the condition is, there is still some stigma about it. Many people are embarrassed to admit that they have hemorrhoids, even to a doctor.
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the rectal area. When you pass a bowel movement, more blood flows into the veins in the anus to help facilitate the process. If there is excessive straining or pressure on the veins, they can become swollen. Straining during bowel movements or sitting on the toilet for a long time, as can occur during constipation or diarrhea, can cause the condition. Being overweight or pregnant also increases the risk due to the increased pressure on the pelvis, and some women develop the condition during childbirth.
Treatment is Simple
Hemorrhoids aren’t just common – they’re also easily treatable. Over-the-counter creams may provide temporary relief from pain and itching, but they only address the symptoms, not the cause. Some types of hemorrhoids can be treated with lifestyle changes, such as adding fiber and water to your diet. Other types may need to be treated using a medical procedure called hemorrhoid banding, where the veins are tied off so that they will be cut off from the blood supply and fall off. In rare cases, surgery is necessary.
Many people feel anxious about seeing a gastroenterologist for hemorrhoid treatment. The thought of talking to your doctor about bowel movements and hemorrhoid symptoms might be daunting. In addition, many people worry that the process of diagnosis and treatment will be embarrassing or uncomfortable.
Doctors deal with gastrointestinal issues each and every day. Although patients often feel embarrassed to discuss their issues, to a doctor discussing and examining the rectum and colon is similar to addressing an elbow injury. Your doctor will address your symptoms and treatment in a professional, non-judgmental manner – the goal is simply to relieve your symptoms.
Patients also worry about the treatment and diagnosis aspect of the process. To diagnose the cause of your symptoms, your doctor will probably need to perform a digital rectal examination and examine the rectum with a scope. If you are over 50 or have risk factors for colon cancer, a colonoscopy may also be needed. None of these procedures should be painful, and as you go through diagnosis and treatment, it’s helpful to remember that doctors frequently do such procedures, and view them in a purely medical light.
If you have symptoms of hemorrhoids, it’s important to seek treatment for the condition. Seeking treatment is especially important if you see blood in your stool – although blood is often a sign of hemorrhoids, it can also be a sign of more serious medical conditions.
To schedule a consultation about your gastrointestinal health, To schedule a consultation today, please find a GI Alliance location near you.