What is a hemorrhoid?
A hemorrhoid can be described as a big, bulging varicose vein in the rectum.
A hemorrhoid is defined as a “mass of dilated, tortuous veins in the ano-rectum involving the venous plexuses of that area.” – Taber’s Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, Edition 18. Syn. Pile – a single hemorrhoid; or Piles – hemorrhoids.
Causes of Hemorrhoids
- Sitting for long periods of time. External compression from poorly designed seating concentrates forces on small areas of the body. This results in high localized pressure. This pressure can compress nerves, vessels and other soft tissues resulting in tissue-specific damage. These changes may result in disease or predispose other tissues to damage.
- Standing for long periods of time. When you are standing, the pressure in your hemorrhoids increases, and they tend to swell more from the effects of erect posture.
- Straining to have a bowel movement. If you are constipated, your hemorrhoids will tend to worsen. Consider over-the-counter stool softeners if suffering with constipation.
- Heavy lifting. Try to avoid heavy lifting because it can increase intra-abdominal pressure, which can cause hemorrhoids to swell.
- Shivering. Standing in the cold can cause shivering and tensing of the abdomen, which causes abdominal straining, which can cause hemorrhoids to swell.
- Coughing. Coughing causes abdominal straining and aggravates the problem. Try to avoid coughing if possible. Consider over-the- counter cough medicine, if needed, for a short period of time.
- Whole-body / work-place vibrations. Whole body vibrations occur while driving and working with machinery. Medical studies have shown a high rate of hemorrhoids among truck drivers, cab drivers, and police officers.
- Pregnancy. Hemorrhoids are common during pregnancy. The large uterus can compress veins which return blood from the legs and rectum promoting swelling. Labor and delivery generates stress on hemorrhoids. Management of hemorrhoids during pregnancy and before labor is best.
Prevalence of Hemorrhoids
According to the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS), symptoms related to hemorrhoids are very common in the western hemisphere and other industrialized societies.
Hemorrhoids represent one of the most common problems in the United States resulting in over 2 million outpatient evaluations per year (Davis, BR, Diseases of the Colon & Rectum: March, 2018 – Volume 61 – Issue 3 – pp. 284-292).
Types of hemorrhoids
- External – those involving veins distal to the ano-rectal line.
External hemorrhoids protrude into and beyond the anal opening causing itching, swelling, bleeding and pain.
- Internal – those involving veins proximal to the ano-rectal line.
Internal hemorrhoids can cause painless rectal bleeding; however, painless rectal bleeding can have other causes, like cancer.
The younger you are, the more likely it is that you do have hemorrhoidal bleeding. Any rectal bleeding should be discussed with your doctor.
Treatment for Hemorrhoids
Treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms, not the extent of the hemorrhoids. The decision concerning the necessity of surgery (hemorrhoidectomy) should not be made until acute symptoms and inflammation have subsided. This is known as a painful surgery.
In many cases, the only therapy required is improvement in anal hygiene and administration of stool softeners to prevent straining to have a bowel movement.
Over the counter products are available, such as Tucks pads, which contains WITCH HAZE, creams with lidocaine, hydrocortisone or phenylephrine (Preparation H). These therapies can shrink the area and relieve itching.
The patented Buttpillow® line of ergonomic seating cushions elevate the peri-anal area taking pressure off the site of hemorrhoids to alleviate pain and can be beneficial for individuals suffering with prostate problems, erectile dysfunction, or any other peri-anal condition or syndrome.
Hemorrhoids may increase Erectile Dysfunction
“Erectile dysfunction patients in a Taiwan study were twice as likely to have a history of hemorrhoids; and erectile dysfunction patients younger than 30 years were 3.7 times as likely to have had hemorrhoids.”Renal and Urology News, Sept. 2012.
Hemorrhoidal Prostatic Impotence Syndrome
Internal hemorrhoids are a known risk factor for erectile dysfunction. Sexual impotence developing in a patient with internal hemorrhoids is called “Hemorrhoidal Prostatic Impotence Syndrome.” – Dictionary of Medical Syndromes, Fourth Edition.
“Therapy for Hemorrhoidal Prostatic Impotence Syndrome is a hemorrhoidectomy. The prognosis is good with therapy.”Cantor, AJ: Hemorrhoidal-prostatic-impotence syndrome, NY State J Med 46:1455-1456, 1946.
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