What Are Hemorrhoids? Understanding the condition and the cause of Hemorrhoids

Aside from bringing discomfort, hemorrhoids could be an embarrassing experience. Fortunately, the condition is not life-threatening but the pain and the bleeding could cause a lot of inconvenience and could hinder a person from living a normal life. Having hemorrhoids is something that should not be taken for granted. It is best to have knowledge about the condition so you could avoid acquiring one.

Hemorrhoids are described as clumps or cushions of tissue that contain blood vessels that can be found at the affected region junction. Hemorrhoids are actually present in everyone and having them is not an abnormality. Hemorrhoids are only treated as a disease when they get large and inflamed and subsequently cause problems.

To understand how enlarged hemorrhoids can occur, first we must understand where hemorrhoids are located and how their location affects the condition. As mentioned before, they are found at the junction of the inner affected area with the outside skin. The inner affected area is the last part of the large intestine and it is where the solid waste is kept until it is expelled by the body through the lower canal.

Our lower intestine has a rich network of arteries and these arteries provide fresh supply of blood to the hemorrhoidal blood vessels. While the local arteries supply the blood, the veins, on the other hand, drain away blood from the hemorrhoids and the area around. The draining happens in two directions - above the dentate line or below the dentate line. The dentate line is a line found in the back canal that indicates the transition from the skin to the inner area lining.

There are two kinds of hemorrhoidal formation - the internal hemorrhoid and the external hemorrhoid. A hemorrhoid formation originating at the inner side or the top side of the internal canal is referred to as an internal hemorrhoid while the one originating near the exitingpoint or at the lower end of the canal is referred to as external hemorrhoid.

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There are three major hemorrhoidal cushions - the right posterior, right anterior, and left lateral. When internal hemorrhoids enlarge, there is swelling of the cushion vessels and increase in size of the supporting tissues. This enlarging mass of vessels and tissues protrudes into the canal and cause problems.

There are several causes as to why hemorrhoids occur. One cause is related to straining while expelling a stool. The pulling force of the stool as it passes through the canal drags the hemorrhoidal cushions downward. A physiological fact relevant to this is about the elevated pressure in the bottom part of our body or the muscle surrounding the lower canal and the hemorrhoids. This muscle is the one that allows us to control our bowel movements.

During bowel movements, increased force or straining is needed to force the solid waste through the sphincter. This increased shearing force that is put on the hemorrhoids as the stool is being pushed out of the body may drag the hemorrhoids downwards and cause them to enlarge.

Another cause points out to the deterioration, due to aging or a serious medical condition of the supporting tissue that anchors the hemorrhoids to the underlying canal muscle. With the deterioration of this supporting tissue, the hemorrhoidal tissue loses its anchor and then slides down. Having weak intestine vein walls and valves could also be due to genetic or hereditary conditions.

Excess consumption of dairy products can also lead to irritation of the hemorrhoids. This is because excess dairy product intake such as cheese can cause the stool to have too much lactic acid content.

Lack of fiber content in the daily diet could also cause hemorrhoids. This is because lack of fiber means having a hard time expelling the solid waste from your body. Fibers are known to aid bowel movement because they make the stool soft and easier to be pushed by the intestines through gentle pressure waves. If the diet lacks the required fiber intake, the stool becomes dry, hard and small and makes it hard for the intestines to push out waste without aid from the abdominal muscles, this is what is called "straining".

Chronic constipation is also another cause of hemorrhoids. This is because constipated people tend to strain more every time they do their bowel movements. Having diarrhea, the opposite condition, could also cause hemorrhoids because of the frequent pressure exerted on the canal. To sum it up, disturbance or abnormal bowel movements causes extra pressure for the canal and the hemorrhoids, causing the latter to inflame.

One way to avoid having hemorrhoids is to make sure that you have enough fiber in your diet and have a regular fluid intake. This will ensure that your stool will be in an "ideal" condition for your body to expel it out easily. As mentioned previously, straining and application of excess force to the canal during bowel movement is a major cause of hemorrhoids so this is what should be avoided.

If you suspect that you might have hemorrhoids or are already suffering from this condition, seek medical attention to prevent the condition from getting worse. There are different ways to treat hemorrhoids. Over-the-counter products such as ointments, gels, creams, foams, suppositories, and pads are used for hemorrhoid treatment.

Ointments, gels and creams are thinly applied as a covering around the affected area. Local anesthetics are also used to relieve pain, itching, and burning temporarily by numbing the nerve endings. However, these products can cause allergic reactions together with burning and itching. Therefore the use of anesthetics should be stopped if the burning and itching increases upon use.

There are also surgical and non-surgical ways to treat hemorrhoids. Non-surgical procedures include sclerotherapy that involves injection of liquid into the base of the hemorrhoid, rubber band litigation wherein a tight rubber band is used to encircle the base of the hemorrhoid, heat coagulation wherein heat is used to destroy the hemorrhoidal tissue, and cryotherapy which removes the veins by using cold temperature.

Dilation, doppler ligation, sphincterotomy, and hemorrhoidectomy are the surgical procedures done to treat hemorrhoids. Unfortunately, after dilation and sphincterotomy procedures are done, patients may suffer from incontinence or being unable to control their stool because of the damage these procedures cause to the muscles there.