Non-Surgical Options to Treat Hemorrhoids
If you have been diagnosed with hemorrhoids, then you may be concerned about the possibility of needing surgical treatment in order to eliminate these troublesome swellings found in the rectal area. However, you can reassure yourself that only the most severe cases will require surgical treatment, usually when the hemorrhoids are particularly large, or when they have failed to respond to less invasive methods of treatment. There are a number of options that should be tried before surgery is even considered.
- Self-help methods will usually be recommended first, and the majority of hemorrhoid symptoms will resolve within a few days. This will usually involve eating a high fiber diet, to encourage the movement of food through the digestive tract. A regular movement prevents constipation and means that you are less likely to strain while trying to pass stool. This straining is one of the main causes of hemorrhoids, as it leads to increased pressure in the rectum and anus. Veins are not intended to be under high pressure, so the delicate walls are damaged, begin to swell and then develop into the hemorrhoid.
- If self-care has not reduced your symptoms sufficiently, then the next step will be to try one of many available over-the-counter treatments. These can be in the form of an ointment, a cream or a suppository. They are intended to relieve the symptoms, particularly inflammation and itching, rather than curing the hemorrhoids. You should follow the instructions given for the medication that you have chosen, as the majority of them can only be used for five to seven days, as the skin is sensitive and easily irritated. While using these medications, you should also continue with the self-care that you have already begun.
- If the inflammation is particularly severe and you are in a lot of pain, then your colorectal specialist may recommend, and prescribe, corticosteroid cream. This can cause the skin to become thinner than usual, so it should be used under your doctor’s supervision. The corticosteroids will help to reduce your symptoms, making it more comfortable for you and allowing your body a chance to heal naturally.
- In cases of hemorrhoids where these methods have not been successful, then you may be offered a treatment known as rubber banding. This will be performed in the office and although you may experience mild discomfort for a few days, you will be able to return to work immediately. The procedure involves placing an elastic band tightly around the base of each hemorrhoid, in order to cut off the blood supply. Over the course of a week, this should lead to the hemorrhoid falling off and being expelled from the body with the feces. You will probably not notice when this occurs, although some mucus may be discharged when the hemorrhoid falls off. Some minor bleeding may occur immediately after the procedure, but if it is persistent, or blood clots are present, then you should seek medical advice from your proctologist immediately, as a complication may have developed.