EmpowHER has had some questions recently from readers who want to treat their hemorrhoids on their own, naturally -- and others who aren't sure whether they have them or not. The first thing to do is find out if you actually have hemorrhoids, and initially it's best to get an actual diagnoses from a health care provider before self-treatment.
So what are hemorrhoids? Aside from being very unpleasant, hemorrhoids are bulging veins that feel thick and lumpy and can be found inside or outside the anal and lower rectal area of the body. They can cause painful bowel movements, discomfort, pain and bleeding -- another reason why an official diagnosis is a good idea since rectal and anal bleeding can have many causes -- some very serious.
Bloody hemorrhoids can be a frightening experience. This usually happens with internal hemorrhoids rather than the external ones. Blood can be found in the stool or in the toilet bowl, as well as when wiping. Wiping with a warm cloth or baby wipe can help with pain, as toilet paper can feel hard and sharp.
Bloody hemorrhoids need to be monitored so that they do not develop into clots, known as thrombosed hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoid. org has a great information page on the causes and treatments of bloody hemorrhoids.
People are more likely to get hemorrhoids from a lack of fiber in the diet that causes straining during bowel movements, pregnancy and childbirth, chronic cough, obesity and constipation/diarrhea. Hereditary factors can also be a cause. However, many people with none of these factors can get hemorrhoids for reasons unknown.
Hemorrhoids aren't always preventable but ways to help avoid them include a healthy, fresh diet, not straining during bowel movements, exercising and not waiting to go -- when you feel the need to empty the bowels, do so as soon as possible.
Home remedies can work pretty well and are very cost-effective. According to EmpowHER's Hemorrhoids page, a sitz bath can be very effective for treating symptoms. The average sitz bath costs between $10-$15, is reusable and can be bought at any drugstore. This is a simple "potty" type container that can be placed over a toilet seat, containing warm water. Sitting in this, several times a day for 10-15 minutes at a time, can ease the pain that hemorrhoids cause.
Applying ice packs to the anal area will help to shrink the swelling veins and stop the pain that swelling causes. Hydration can help to stop hemorrhoids so drinking plenty of water daily is a good idea. And again, fiber rich foods like fruits and vegetables, and cereals and breads high in fiber can make bowel movements more frequent, softer and easier to pass.
The cereal brand Kellogg's makes very high fiber cereals (All Bran and Bran Buds) and a box costs about six dollars. One serving contains 40 percent of the recommended daily amount. Add a little fruit on top to increase the fiber, and your daily breakfast will cost about 70 cents with constipation drastically reduced.
Their 7-Day Promise of better bowel health seems to run very true based on reviews (and my own personal experience). Constipation can make hemorrhoids excruciating. Warm baths also help to ease discomfort.
If these methods don't work, then medical intervention may be required. However, natural methods can work very well, especially when several (or all) are used on a frequent basis.
EmpowHER.com. Hemorrhoids. Web. Oct. 17, 2011. https://www.empowher.com/condition/hemorrhoids/treatments
Hemorrhoids.org. Bleeding Hemorrhoids and their Causes. Web. Oct. 17, 2011. http://www.hemorrhoids.org/bleeding-hemorrhoids.html
Reviewed October 17, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith