Relief From Hemorrhoids
Napoleon had them at Waterloo. George Brett had them during the
1985 World Series. They are hemorrhoids, a painful and embarrassing condition
that makes sitting uncomfortable. All types of people can have hemorrhoids:
athletes and generals, secretaries, pregnant women, and workers who do a lot of
heavy lifting. It is estimated that 80% of all Americans will develop them at
sometime in their lives.
Actually, everyone has hemorrhoids. That's because, strictly
speaking, hemorrhoids are clusters of venous tissue inside the rectum and under
the skin around the anus that swell gently to aid in elimination. The condition
we call hemorrhoids (or piles) actually refers to an abnormal swelling of the
tissue in the anal canal. As painful, discomforting, and embarrassing as
hemorrhoids can be, they are generally not a sign of anything more serious. You
can often treat their symptoms at home without resorting to expensive medical
procedures. And preventing their return often means making changes that are
good for you.
Symptoms of Hemorrhoids
two types of hemorrhoids: internal and external. Internal hemorrhoids
usually remain along the anal wall. Most people who have internal hemorrhoids
aren't aware of them unless checked by a physician. Internal hemorrhoids may
protrude (or prolapse), bleed, or discharge mucus. External hemorrhoids
are small soft pads around the outside anal opening, the same color as your
skin. When an external hemorrhoid forms a blood clot (or thromboses), it can
appear blue in color and generate considerable pain and itching. An obvious
sign of hemorrhoids is their external appearance. But if you see blood on your
toilet tissue or notice changes in your bowel patterns, it may be a sign of
hemorrhoids -- or something more serious. If this is the case, you should
consult your physician. Your doctor will do a visual examination and if
necessary, a digital rectal exam to check for internal hemorrhoids.
Causes of Hemorrhoids
understand why you suffer from hemorrhoids, let's take a quick tour of your
- The digestive process begins in your mouth. Your teeth break up
the food into small pieces and your saliva mixes with the food, allowing it to
pass through the esophagus into the stomach.
- Using muscular contractions, the esophagus sends food from the
mouth to the stomach.
- Like a giant processing center, the stomach churns the food
into smaller pieces, preparing it to travel on to the lower part of the
- After leaving the stomach, the food passes into the small
intestine, where the food's nutrients are further broken down and absorbed into
the bloodstream. By the time food passes through all 21 feet of the small
intestine and reaches the colon, only water and waste products remain.
- The colon absorbs up to 90 percent of the water from the stool,
making it more solid. Your lower, or sigmoid, colon stores the stool until it's
time to pass it.
- The rectum is the last portion of the colon, where the body's
wastes are expelled. During normal elimination, wastes collect in the rectum as
soft stool. The sphincter muscles, which expand and contract like rubber bands,
relax and your internal hemorrhoids swell slightly to cushion the stool as it
leaves the body.
Hemorrhoidal swelling occurs during difficult elimination, when
the stool is hard and you strain to pass it. The straining causes the
hemorrhoids to swell repeatedly and if the hard stool passes, it scrapes
against the tissue, irritating it. A variety of conditions and activities can
increase your chances of getting hemorrhoids. Pregnant women can suffer from
hemorrhoids because of the extra weight they carry. Straining to lift too much
weight can also contribute to abnormal swelling.
One of the most common causes of hemorrhoids is hard stool, when
your waste doesn't contain enough bulk. Constipation can also aggravate
hemorrhoids. Simple solutions to constipation associated with hemorrhoids can
be a high-fiber diet or a bulk-fiber laxative, which soften the stool and
encourage normal elimination.
Treatment of Hemorrhoids
think you have hemorrhoids, see your doctor before trying any medical
treatments. For instant relief of pain and swelling, try sitting in a bathtub
of three or so inches of warm water. This is known as a "sitz bath." Cotton
pads soaked in an astringent such as witch hazel, also bring relief for some
sufferers. To encourage better bowel movements, your doctor may suggest some
initial lifestyle changes, such as improving your diet and increasing exercise.
If these changes do not help relieve your constipation, your doctor may suggest
one of the following types of laxatives:
- A bulk fiber laxative
- A stool softener
Laxatives should be used only as directed. Different laxatives
work in various ways; let your doctor choose the best one for you.
Start by practicing
good bowel habits.
- Don't think you have to have a good bowel movement every day or
at the same time; you'll strain too hard to stay on schedule.
- If you feel the urge to have a bowel movement, respond
immediately. Delaying now may mean straining later.
- Confine your bathroom reading to the tub; sitting and straining
too long on the toilet will only encourage swelling.
- Wipe yourself gently with soft, white, unperfumed tissue, not
only to keep the area clean but also to avoid any unnecessary irritation.
Exercise can aid digestion. Swimming, biking, or just walking is a
good idea for your health in general. The biggest change you may have to make
in your life is your diet. Most of us don't get enough fiber, which promotes
regular elimination of soft stool.
- Rectal pain, unusual burning
- Appearance of red or blue
anal tissue pads
- Bright red blood on toilet
tissue or on stool
- Warm bath
- Cotton pads with
- Good bowel
- High-fiber diet
- Regular exercise
The High-Fiber Diet
probably the most misunderstood part of our diet. It furnishes no nutrients,
vitamins, or minerals. It isn't even absorbed into our bodies. So why do we
need it? Fiber adds bulk to keep other foods moving along the digestive tract,
and it holds water, which in turn, softens the stool for easy elimination.
Right now, most people could double or even triple their fiber intake just to
reach suggested levels. The average American takes in 10-15 grams of fiber a
day, but experts recommend taking in 20-35 grams.
Fiber comes in two different forms: soluble and insoluble. While
they work differently, both are needed for proper bowel function. All fiber
sources contain both kinds of fiber in varying amounts. Don't think you have to
totally rearrange your diet to accommodate more fiber. One way to start is to
substitute high-fiber foods for low-fiber ones. Switch your bakery habits from
white bread and rolls to whole-grain breads. Try brown instead of white rice.
Eat "whole grain" cereal. And most easily of all, add fruits and vegetables to
Your general rule of thumb should be at least one serving of whole
grain in every meal. Try this sample menu:
Breakfast -- Cereal and/or toast. Make sure the first name
on your cereals and breads is Whole Grain. Add banana slices to cereal.
Lunch -- Sandwich on whole-grain bread. Carrot sticks.
Snack -- Apple or raisins. Skip the candy bar, or at least cut back.
Dinner -- Broiled chicken and steamed broccoli. Wheat
Questions About Fiber
Q: How much fiber do I need each day?
A: Nutrition experts suggest 20 to 35 grams a day, which is
equivalent to 10 or more apples, oranges, or pears.
Q: What is the most effective way to
add fiber to the diet?
A: By replacing high-fat, low-fiber foods
with high-fiber ones. You can do this by eating whole-grain bread instead of
white bread, eating vegetables such as broccoli with your dinner, and eating
fruits unpeeled instead of peeled.
Q: At what rate should I add fiber to
A: In the beginning, go slowly. Too much too soon can cause
gas and abdominal pain. It can take several weeks to add the recommended amount
of bulk to the diet. While you're working on it, drink plenty of fluids.
Try to increase your intake of vegetables and fruit. You should be
getting three servings of each every day. Try a sliced banana on your cereal,
substitute carrot sticks for chips as a lunch side, and crunch on a salad for
dinner. Wherever possible, eat the peels (you're off the hook with bananas and
There are possible downsides to increasing fiber. Some high-fiber
foods, like beans, can produce excessive gas or bloating. Take in too much
fiber too soon and you could suffer from bloating or abdominal cramps.
Remember, whenever you change your diet, for whatever reason, do
it gradually. Let your body adjust. And check in with your doctor if you
experience any discomfort.
A Fiber Solution:
If your physician has recommended
increasing your fiber intake in order to treat constipation, he or she may
suggest the convenience and effectiveness of Metamucil.
What does METAMUCIL add?
METAMUCIL contains psyllium, a 100%-natural fiber that helps you restore
regularity, increase your fiber intake, and maintain regularity when
recommended by your physician.
How much fiber can METAMUCIL add?
At 3.4 grams per dose, taken up to three times per day, you can add as much
as 10.2 grams of psyllium fiber. That's about half of the minimum amount of
fiber recommended for your daily consumption. And it's one of the most
concentrated sources of soluble fiber. In fact, METAMUCIL's fiber contains more
than eight times the amount of soluble fiber found in oat bran, gram for gram.
When can I take METAMUCIL?
can take METAMUCIL in the morning, at noon or in the evening, with or without
food with at least 8 ounces of liquid (one to three times a day). Laxatives,
including bulk fibers, may affect how well other medicines work. If you are
taking a prescription medicine by mouth, take this product at least 2 hours
before or 2 hours after the prescribed medicine.
YOUR METAMUCIL OPTIONS
|Smooth Texture Orange(Sugar
||1 tsp or 1 PKT
||Less than 5
|Smooth Texture Regular(Sugar
|| 1 tsp
||Less than 5
|Smooth Texture Orange(with
||1 TBSP or 1 PKT
||Less than 5
|Wafers: Apple Crisp orCinnamon
* Metamucil® is a
registered trademark of Proctor & Gamble.
All material was reproduced
with permission from Proctor & Gamble.
Hemorrhoids are clusters of venous tissue inside the rectum and under
the skin around the anus that swell gently to aid in elimination.
The condition we call "hemorrhoids" (or piles) actually refers to an
abnormal swelling of the tissue in the anal canal.