Thursday, February 23, 2012

What a Pain in the Butt!

"...my problems are all behind me"
Hall-of-Fame baseball player George Brett, after hemorrhoid surgery during 1980 World Series

I've heard the term "piles" but had no clue that it meant hemorrhoids; nor did I really have a clear idea of what hemorrhoids are. So I've done some reading on this pain in the butt topic.

The MayoClinic says, Hemorrhoids (HEM-uh-roids), are swollen and inflamed veins in your anus and lower rectum that may result from straining during bowel movements or from the increased pressure on these veins during pregnancy [or from being overweight]. ... By age 50, about half of adults have had to deal with the itching, discomfort and bleeding that can signal the presence of hemorrhoids.

WebMD says, normally, tissue inside the anus fills with blood to help control bowel movements. If you strain to move stool, the increased pressure causes the veins in this tissue to swell and stretch.

Symptoms include
  • Bleeding during bowel movements with streaks of bright red blood on toilet paper
  • Anal Itching
  • Rectal pain when sitting or wiping your bottom
If you are younger than 50 your doctor may just examine your rectum with a gloved finger or use a short, lighted scope to look inside. If older than 50 or there's not an obvious hemorrhoid the doctor may recommend a colonoscopy because bleeding can also indicate colon-rectum cancer.

Bottom Line

For most hemorrhoids, home treatment is sufficient - eat more fiber, drink more water, and use over-the-counter ointments for a limited time to stop itching. Get more exercise, especially walking to reduce constipation. You might also use stool softeners to reduce straining.

For painful internal hemorrhoids a doctor may tie off the hemorrhoids with rubber bands or scar the tissue around the hemorrhoids to reduce the blood supply and make them shrink or go away.

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