Hemorrhoids

(Piles)

Etiology: A mass of dilated, tortuous veins in the anorectum involving the venous plexuses of that area. There are two kinds: external, those involving veins distal to the anorectal line (a dilated vein or veins at the junction of anal mucosa with the anal skin); and internal, those involving veins proximal to the anorectal line (dilated veins of the lower rectum at the anal-rectal junction). Usually related to constipation, pregnancy, improper diet, lack of exercise, prolonged periods of sitting, heavy lifting, obesity, liver damage, and allergies.

Approximately half of the population of the United States over fifty years of age suffer from hemorrhoids.

CAUSES: Improper eating habits may cause the majority of hemorrhoids. Eating a diet that contains a large amount of refined foods that are low in bulk (fiber), tends to cause small, hard stools, resulting in straining and constipation; this causes the pressure inside the colon to increase.

Taking ordinary commercial laxatives that are on the market may also be a cause, as many of them irritate the membranous lining of the colon.

SYMPTOMS: Swollen veins are present around the anus or inside the rectum. These swollen blood vessels frequently become irritated and bleed.

Hemorrhoids may itch, burn (sting), tear, and bleed, causing discomfort and pain. Severe hemorrhoids should be evaluated and treated by the doctor.

TREATMENT: Depends on the severity of the symptoms, not the extent of the hemorrhoids. In many instances, the only therapy required is improvement in anal hygiene and administration of stool softeners to prevent straining to have a bowel movement. The decision concerning the necessity of surgery or ligature with rubber bands should not be made until acute symptoms and inflammation have subsided. This allows tissues to regain their usual shape.

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