There are a range of different treatments available for hemorrhoids sufferers. Perhaps the best known is the cream or suppository product such as Preparation H which is applied directly to the hemorrhoids. Bathing can also be used to ease the pain, and in stubborn cases surgery can also be used.
A change in diet, specifically trying to eat more fiber, can help to prevent constipation and straining. High fiber foods include fresh and dried fruits, grains, and vegetables. Fiber supplements such as Citrucel (methylcellulose plant fiber) or Metamucil (psyllium fiber) can also be bought over the counter.
The recommended daily intake of fiber is around 20-30 grams (most Americans in fact only eat 15 grams of fiber or less per day).
With any increase of fiber there should be a similar increase of fluids - lots of water is the usual solution. Stool softeners are also used sometimes.
If diarrhea has contributed to the hemorrhoids then a high fiber diet may help, and anti-motility drugs such as Imodium may be used in the short term.
Some sufferers found it helpful to bathe in plain warm water for about 10 minutes or so once or twice a day.
You may find it useful to use a stool or platform around your toilet, which will enable you to have a bowel movement in a squatting position. This position causes less strain on the anal area and helps to prevent incomplete evacuation.
Creams and suppositories
There are a large number of different creams and suppositories which are designed to treat hemorrhoids. Creams are applied directly to external hemorrhoids, and suppositories are placed into the rectum where they dissolve.
Creams generally contains one or more of the following active ingredients:
- Local anesthetics
Local anesthetics temporarily numb the affected area to help relieve pain and itching.
Vasoconstrictors reduce the size of blood vessels around the anus, and so help to reduce swelling. They can also have a mild anesthetic effect.
Protectants prevent irritation by creating a barrier between the hemorrhoids and any liquid or stool coming from the rectum, which can in turn help to prevent irritation and pain.
Antiseptics stop the growth of harmful bacteria.
There are various medical (but not surgical) procedures which can be used to treat hemorrhoids. The aim of the procedures is to produce scarring in the hemorrhoids, which then causes the hemorrhoids to shrink. These type of procedures shouldn't cause any pain.
Sclerotherapy involves the use of a liquid, which is injected into the hemorrhoids. This causes inflammation and then scarring. Symptoms may return after several years have passed.
- Rubber band ligation
This is where a tight rubber band is wrapped around the base of the hemorrhoids. This cuts off the blood supply to the hemorrhoids and causes scarring. It can be more effective than sclerotherapy although symptoms may still return after some years. There can be mild pain following this procedure.
- Heat coagulation
There are a number of different treatments which basically all use heat to kill off the hemorrhoidal tissue.
The opposite of heat coagulation, cryotherapy uses cold to kill the hemorrhoids. It is less common than the other procedures because it can be less effective and more painful as well.
Most hemorrhoids sufferers will find a non-surgical treatment that works for them, but sometimes surgery can be necessary. Again, there are various different procedures which can be used.
If the anal sphincter is forcefully dilated then the anal sphincter can be weakened, and this in turn can help to reduce the presence of hemorrhoids. However, this procedure may reduce the effectiveness of the sphincter as well and so is fairly rare.
- Doppler ligation
This is where a an illuminated scope is used to identify the artery that is supplying the hemorrhoids. The artery can then be tied off (ligated) which will reduce its size.
As you would expect, a hemorrhoidectomy involves surgical removal of the hemorrhoids. This procedure is usually only performed on patients with quite severe hemorrhoids, as there can be pain following the procedure and quite strong painkillers may be required.