Hemorrhoids: Symptoms, Treatments and Causes

Hemorrhoids: Symptoms, Treatments and Causes

Published: 26th July, 2020 in: Health

What are Haemorrhoids?

Haemorrhoids occur when blood vessels around the anus become enlarged. Often known as piles, these enlarged blood vessels cause lumps to appear both inside and around the anus, which can result in discomfort and pain.

What are the Symptoms of Hemorrhoids?

There are a number of symptoms that may or may not present themselves if you are suffering from haemorrhoids. In some cases, you may not even know you have them and they will recover by themselves within a few days however, in more severe cases there are some things to look out for:

  • bright red blood after a bowel movement
  • itching around the anus
  • feeling like you still need to poo, even after going to the toilet
  • slimy mucus in your underwear, or on toilet paper after wiping 
  • lumps around the anus
  • pain around the anus

If you find you have any of these symptoms, you may be suffering from haemorrhoids. If this is the case you may want to look into some at-home treatments to help relieve symptoms and prevent future flare-ups. If you are worried however, suffering frequent flare-ups or improvement has not been seen after 7 days of treatment, you should visit your GP as further treatment may be required.

If there is a large amount of bleeding i.e. if the toilet water turns red, if you are bleeding constantly or in severe pain you should go to A&E immediately or call 999.

What Causes Hemorrhoids?

While it is not exactly known what causes haemorrhoids, a number of factors have been identified that make haemorrhoids more likely:

  • constipation
  • straining or pushing too hard when pooing
  • heavy lifting
  • pregnancy

They have been associated with increased pressure on the blood vessels around the anus, all of which the above can result in. This added pressure can then cause swelling and inflammation, forming lumps in and around the anus.

Haemorrhoids in Pregnancy

Haemorrhoids are particularly prevalent during pregnancy. This is because during pregnancy the body releases hormones. Some of these hormones make the veins relax; including those around the anus. This can, therefore, increase the chances of developing haemorrhoids in pregnancy. The symptoms for piles during pregnancy are the same as for those who are not currently pregnant; predominantly itching or pain around the anus, blood after bowel movements, mucus and lumps around the anus.

Haemorrhoids in Children

Haemorrhoids is not a condition that just affects adults, children can also suffer from haemorrhoids. This may occur due to prolonged periods of sitting on hard surfaces, or straining during bowel movements, often resulting from digestive problems. When looking for haemorrhoid treatments suitable for children, you should always ensure you speak to a GP or pharmacist first and read the information leaflets provided with medications. This is because many over the counter hemorrhoid treatments are not suitable for use by children.

Treatment for Hemorrhoids

It is possible to treat haemorrhoids at home; you should see improvement after 7 days of treatment. If not, you should visit your GP as stronger medication may be required.

Treating Hemorrhoids at Home

In order to treat haemorrhoids at home or prevent haemorrhoids in the future you should:

  • drink plenty of fluids and ensure your diet is rich in fibre in order to keep your poo soft
  • wipe your bottom clean after bowel movements with damp toilet paper
  • take paracetamol if your haemorrhoids are causing pain
  • take a warm bath to ease itching and pain
  • apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel to the area in order to ease discomfort
  • gently push any protruding haemorrhoids back inside
  • keep your bottom clean and dry at all times
  • perform regular exercise 
  • avoid alcohol and caffeine (like tea, coffee and cola) to reduce the likelihood of constipation occurring

You should not:

  • wipe too hard after a bowel movement
  • ignore the urge to go to the toilet
  • push too hard during bowel movements
  • take painkillers that contain codeine, as they can cause constipation
  • take ibuprofen if your haemorrhoids are already bleeding
  • spend more time on the toilet than is necessary

You may also want to speak to your pharmacist about possible over the counter haemorrhoid treatments. Treatments include suppositories, ointments, wipes and creams for haemorrhoids. Wipes such as the Preparation H Soothing Wipes can help to keep the area clean whilst providing soothing relief to itching of external haemorrhoids. Suppositories such as the Anusol Suppositories,  are able to provide treatment for internal haemorrhoids. They also have antiseptic properties which help to reduce inflammation and promote healing. The Anusol Cream on the other hand is able to provide treatment to both internal and external haemorrhoids. It contains a range of ingredients that help to relieve symptoms, aid healing and protect raw or irritated skin. Always read the information leaflets provided before using the products.

Hospital Treatments for Hemorrhoids

If symptoms persist after 7 days of treatment, you should visit your GP. They may suggest further treatment is required, some of which will require hospitalisation. There are a range of treatment options, something your doctor will discuss with you to ensure you find the best option for your circumstances. Non-surgical options include:

  • Rubber Band Ligation: a band is placed around the haemorrhoids in order to make them drop off
  • Sclerotherapy: a liquid is injected into your haemorrhoids which causes them to shrink
  • Electrotherapy: a gentle electric current is applied to the hemorrhoids to make them shrink
  • Infrared Coagulation: an infrared light is used to cut the blood supply to the hemorrhoids which again causes them to shrink

If these treatments are not successful, surgery may be required. This is a last resort however and at-home treatments should be trialed first. Surgical options include:

  • Hemorrhoidectomy: the hemorrhoids are cut out
  • Stapled Hemorrhoidopexy: the hemorrhoids are stapled back inside the anus
  • Hemorrhoidal Artery Ligation: stitches are used to cut the blood supply to the hemorrhoids to make them shrink

Browse our range of hemorrhoid treatments

For more information on the symptoms, causes and treatments for hemorrhoids why not speak to a member of our knowledgeable team, or visit one of our pharmacy branches?

If problems persist, contact your GP for further advice.