Hemorrhoids occur when a blood vessel in or around the anal/rectal area becomes inflamed and swollen. But- how long do hemorrhoids last? And what causes hemorrhoids?
Well, hemorrhoids can typically go away within a few days without the use of medication, but it ultimately depends on the aggravating factors (I’ll go over that in a minute).
Causes Of Hemorrhoids
A hemorrhoid can be caused by anything that results in increased pressure in the anal canal. This includes:
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation (from straining)
- Anal intercourse
- Prolonged sitting
- Straining during bowel movements
How Long Do Hemorrhoids Last?
How long a hemorrhoid takes to heal on its own depends on a few different factors. Most mild cases will clear up in around three to four days without treatment but larger ones can take a few weeks. Prolapsed hemorrhoids are troubling since they can persist for months at a time and may not go away without surgical intervention. Let’s take a look at a few agitating factors:
- Obese individuals or pregnant women typically have more persistent hemorrhoids; excess weight or pregnancy will create continual pressure on the area.
- People who suffer from chronic constipation will find that their hemorrhoids stick around longer due to constant straining.
Symptoms of Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids have a few specific symptoms that can make it easier for your doctor to make a formal diagnosis:
- Bleeding bright red blood during a bowel movement. You likely won’t notice this is happening until you see red in the bowl or on toilet paper.
- Itching, irritation, discomfort, or pain from the anal area.
- Lumps or swelling near the anus, sometimes painful.
- Mild leakage of feces.
- Pronounced and painful swelling.
A number of more serious conditions have symptoms that can overlap with those of a hemorrhoid. You should never write off rectal bleeding as the result of a hemorrhoid unless your doctor agrees. If you experience changes in bowel habits, unusually large bleeding, dizziness, or black stools, you should see your doctor as soon as possible since these signs indicate problems elsewhere in the body.
Home Remedies for Hemorrhoids Pain Relief
A hemorrhoid, being a swollen blood vessel, is treatable through methods that help ease inflammation and promote blood flow. The first thing you should do when dealing with a hemorrhoid is to avoid making things worse. This means minimizing possible irritants:
- After a bowel movement, blot the anus with toilet paper that has been moistened with water or cleansing agents. Alternatively, you can use a bidet to clean and then pat dry the area.
- Avoid pre-moistened toilet wipes unless they are alcohol and perfume-free. These can dry out the area and aggravate your symptoms.
- Wear cotton and/or loose underwear to minimize moisture buildup, which can irritate the area.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects and sit on a pillow when possible.
- Increase your fiber and water intake in order to make bowel movements go more easily.
- Topical ointments like “Preparation H” can be applied to ease irritation
- Take a sitz bath to help soothe the anal area and reduce swelling. More information on sitz baths for hemorrhoids can be found here.
- In cases of external hemorrhoids, an ice pack or a cold compress can help reduce swelling.
- Dip a cotton ball in apple cider vinegar and apply to an external hemorrhoid. This will sting but it does relieve the itching and pain.
- Do not deny your sphincter. If you feel the urge to go to the bathroom, do it. The longer stool sits in your body, the harder it gets and the more straining is required.
- Horse chestnut tea can help promote blood flow and reduce swelling. However, this is best avoided if you have a bleeding disorder.
- Stay active.
These steps will help minimize the pain and irritation of your hemorrhoid while reducing the chance of something prolonging its stay.
Other Options To Treat Hemorrhoids
Prolapsed or thrombosed (clotted) hemorrhoids may not respond to home treatments and can warrant more advanced interventions:
- Rubber band ligation: As the name implies, bands are placed around the base of a hemorrhoid and cut off its circulation. This causes it to shrivel and fall off after around a week. It is an uncomfortable, but effective treatment.
- Sclerotherapy: An injection is used to shrink the hemorrhoid and make it more manageable or vanish entirely.
- Coagulation: A laser is shot at your anus to harden and shrivel smaller hemorrhoids.
- Surgery: If the above treatments have been ineffective, surgery is employed as a last resort. A hemorrhoidectomy is the surgical removal of the affected tissue and can be done under a local or full anesthetic depending on technique and preference. Another surgical option is stapling, which is similar to a band ligation but involves medical staples on an internal hemorrhoid.
An aggravated hemorrhoid can be a significant impediment to quality of life and create embarrassment if you don’t get the right help. Be sure to talk to your doctor about treatment options.
Sources for Today’s Article:
“Hemorrhoids – Home Treatment,” WebMD web site, November 14, 2014; http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/tc/hemorrhoids-home-treatment.
“Hemorrhoids: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments,” Medical News Today web site, June 30, 2015; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/73938.php#symptoms_of_hemorrhoids.
“How Long Can Hemorrhoids Last?” Just-Health web site, http://www.just-health.net/How-Long-Do-Hemorrhoids-Last.html, last accessed November 27, 2015.