If the doctor finds hemorrhoids, you may be advised to change your diet to include more fiber. Eat more fresh fruits, leafy vegetables, and whole-grain breads and cereals (especially bran). Drinking six to eight glasses of fluid (not alcohol) each day will also help. Your doctor may recommend that you use a supplement that provides fiber and softens the stool or a stool softener. Softer stools make it easier to empty the bowels and lessen pressure on the veins.
Your doctor might also recommend cold packs, tub bath, warm soaks (sitz bath) or bed rest.
Good hygiene is also important. Bathe the anus gently after each bowel movement using soft, moist toilet paper (or a commercial moist pad). Avoid a lot of wiping. If necessary, you can even use a bath or shower as an alternative to wiping. After bathing, dry the anus gently with a soft cloth or towel.
To protect against irritation, cleanse the anus gently and apply zinc oxide paste (or powder) to the area. Medicated suppositories or creams are available at the drug store. Any of these home treatments may relieve the symptoms and no other treatment may be needed. If symptoms persist, see your doctor.
In some cases, internal hemorrhoids that have fallen outside of the anus (prolapsed) or that bleed too much must be removed. Your gastroenterologist may be able to treat them during an outpatient visit to the office or to the hospital. A number of methods can be used to remove or reduce the number of hemorrhoids:
Surgical treatment: Cutting out the hemorrhoids (hemorrhoidectomy) is sometimes recommended, but carries a painful recovery.
Endoscopic: Endoscopic methods include the use of freezing, electrical or laser heat, or infrared light to destroy the hemorrhoidal tissue.
Band ligation: The gastroenterologist or surgeon may use a technique in which a rubber band is put around the base of the hemorrhoid. The band cuts off circulation, and the hemorrhoid withers away within a few days. This technique is used only for internal hemorrhoids.
Sclerotherapy: In this procedure a chemical is injected around the vein to shrink the hemorrhoid.
- Pass your bowel movements as soon as possible after the urge occurs.
- Avoid straining.
- Be active. Move around, walk and exercise to help move the stools through your body.
- Stay regular by eating enough fiber and drinking enough fluid. Most Americans only take in 13 grams of fiber in their daily diet, half of what is recommended. Adding fiber to your diet helps to produce stools that are softer and easier to pass.
Hemorrhoids usually do not pose a danger to your health. In most cases, hemorrhoid symptoms will go away naturally within a few days. Rarely, chronic bleeding from hemorrhoids may lead to anemia.
Modified and reprinted from the American Gastroenterological Association.