Hemorrhoids: No one really likes to think about them, but the unfortunate reality is that some 50% of all Americans will suffer from them at some point in their life. Indeed, an estimated 100 million Americans are currently suffering from hemorrhoids. Few people like to talk about them, and fewer people seek treatment for this painful and embarrassing condition. You are not alone if you are suffering silently.
So what are hemorrhoids? Also known as piles, hemorrhoids are medically defined as: ‘varicose dilations of veins of the superior and inferior hemorrhoidal plexus’. In lay-man’s terms, they are unusually swollen veins in the anus and rectum, and can be incredibly painful. The signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids include; Rectal bleeding, burning and pain during bowel movements, blood in the stool, itching in the anal area, and painful lumps on the anus.
They can be classified into four types:
1. Internal and do not protrude from the rectum. These may cause symptoms such as itching or bleeding.
2. Protrude from the rectum only during a bowel movement.
3. Protrude from the rectum continuously but can be pushed back in. At this stage, hemorrhoids tend to bleed and become inflamed more easily.
4. Protrude from the rectum and cannot be pushed back in. At this stage there is a risk of infection as well as a risk of developing a blood clot internally.
What causes hemorrhoids? Constipation is the most prevalent cause. Pressure is placed on the rectum while straining to pass hard stools caused by constipation. This pressure causes the veins to swell and, in turn, hemorrhoids appear. Some other common causes include; diarrhea, enemas, frequent laxative use, obesity, aging and pregnancy.
There are many myths surrounding the causes, symptoms and treatment of hemorrhoids. Here are some of the more popular of them:
Hemorrhoids can or will turn into cancer.
This is simply not true. Hemorrhoids are nothing more than swollen rectal veins and do not lead to cancer. This myth has most likely perpetuated because in some instances, colorectal cancer can cause a person to be more susceptible to hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids can be caused by black pepper.
Again, this is not the case. It is true that some spicy foods may cause rectal irritation and itching. These symptoms, however, should not be confused with hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids can be caused by sitting on a concrete sidewalk.
This is a popular myth, especially among Asian communities, but there is no truth to it; sitting on sidewalk will not cause hemorrhoids.
Older people are the only ones affected by hemorrhoids.
While it is true that as we grow older the walls of our veins can become weaker making us more susceptible to hemorrhoids, as well as varicose veins. However, this is certainly not the only cause of hemorrhoids which can affect people, no matter their age.
Can they curable? Of course they are – naturally, fast and easily.