Haemorrhoids are small, blood-filled swellings caused by dilated varicose veins. Initially, they are located just inside the anus (internal haemorrhoids) but can sometimes protrude (external haemorrhoids). Haemorrhoids are not dangerous.
Constipation and prolonged straining when using the toilet are thought to contribute to the formation of haemorrhoids by increasing the pressure in the veins. Haemorrhoids may be present for many years but remain undetected until symptoms appear. They can cause anal bleeding and itching and also pain and discomfort. Normally, the bleeding is limited to small stains of fresh blood on the toilet paper, but more severe bleeding can sometimes be present when stools are passed.
First degree haemorrhoids remain in the anal canal and may produce symptoms of irritation, discharge and possible bleeding. A lump may also be felt in the anus and large haemorrhoids give a sensation that the bowel hasn’t emptied completely. Second degree haemorrhoids prolapse and appear at the anal margin during defaecation, while third degree haemorrhoids are large and always present outside the anus, causing pain and discomfort as well as bleeding.
If you observe blood in your stools, and have the symptoms mentioned above, you should visit your doctor for a check-up. If haemorrhoids are present, the doctor will then perform an examination to find out if there are any other possible causes of the bleeding that may be more serious. The doctor will feel the anal canal, and inspect the mucous membrane of the rectum and lower part of the large intestine using an examination tube called a proctoscope or sigmoidoscope.
Nutritional Supplements that could help. (Refer to the individual supplement for cautions in use.)
|Supplement/Herb||What it does||Dosage|
|Bioflavanoids||A number of flavonoids have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and/or to strengthen blood vessels. These effects could, in theory, be beneficial for people with haemorrhoids||7,500iu to 25,000iu daily|
|Psyllium Husks||Helps relieve constipation which can worsen haemorrhoid symptoms. May reduce the pain and bleeding associated with haemorrhoids. It is important to maintain adequate fluid intake while using psyllium.||1 to 2 teaspoons 3 times daily with plenty of water.|
|Witch Hazel||An astringent herb applied to haemorrhoids three or four times per day in an ointment base, or use distilled witch hazel which has been kept in the fridge. Tones the walls of the veins, helping them to shrink, helps relieve painful haemorrhoids.|
|Horse chestnut||Anti-inflammatory and has the ability to reduce the swelling of blood vessels and tone the wall of veins whilst also improving overall circulation of blood throughout the body.||1ml to 5ml tincture of extract or 60mg to 120mg of standardised capsules per day|
Diet and Lifestyle Factors
As a preventive measure eat a diet which is rich in soluble fibre to make bowel motions easier to pass. Eat oats, apples, pears and 3 to 5 portions of steamed or raw green vegetables/salad daily. Drinking 8 to 10 glasses of fluid daily is advisable.
During an episode of painful haemorrhoids keep stools as soft as possible by eating dried fruit, especially prunes and apricot and prune juice. Avoid foods with lots of small seeds such as tomatoes, gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries and kiwis until the condition settles down as they can cause further irritation.
Haemorrhoids caused by constipation can get better without medical treatment, if you follow the dietary advice given.
Avoid straining when passing a bowel motion. Nobody should strain to push out a stool. The feet can be placed on a low foot stool to aid the bowel movement. Sitting in a shallow bath of hot water for 15 minutes several times a day, will reduce the pain.
In the case of a pile protruding from the back passage, which has become swollen and painful, a day’s bed rest with an ice pack applied to the anal area should be helpful. A pack of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel is ideal for this purpose. Never allow the ice to come directly into contact with the skin and only use this treatment for 20 minutes in an hour for a limit of three hours a day.
Regular exercise helps improve circulation in general and is very important in both treatment and prevention of haemorrhoids.
Homoeopathic Remedies which may help. (Refer to the individual remedy for guidance on the one that is most appropriate for you.)
- Calcarea fluor
- Nux vomica
- Self help methods
- Haemorrhoids explained