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What are Hemorrhoids?
When veins in the anus or rectum become swollen and inflamed, they can cause considerable discomfort and pain, and may even cause rectal bleeding. These swollen veins are called hemorrhoids.
There are a variety of risk factors for hemorrhoids. People who sit down for long periods of time are more at risk, as are cigarette smokers and people who are obese. A diet that is low in fiber can also contribute to the development of hemorrhoids, as such a diet causes excessive amounts of straining during bowel movements. In addition, women who are pregnant have an increased risk of developing hemorrhoids.
Certain conditions can increase the risk of hemorrhoids developing. These include ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and Crohn’s disease. People with high blood pressure are also at increased risk of developing hemorrhoids.
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Treatment for Hemorrhoids
Minor hemorrhoids, or those in the early stages of development, can be treated with medicated creams and some minor lifestyle changes, if necessary. People who sit for long periods will benefit from taking regular short breaks to improve circulation, for example.
Increasing the amount of fiber in the diet can significantly reduce hemorrhoid problems, as the increased fiber softens stool and reduces the amount of straining needed to have a bowel movement.
Persistent hemorrhoids may require surgical removal.
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The Hemorrhoidectomy Procedure
Hemorrhoidectomy for the treatment of hemorrhoids is much less common than in the past. The use of the procedure peaked in the 1970s; since then the rate has declined as prescription medications and minor procedures which can be performed in a doctor's office have become more popular methods of treatment.
During the hemorrhoidectomy procedure a patient is usually under general anesthesia. First, the surgeon makes several small incisions around the area of the hemorrhoid, and then ties off the swollen vein inside the tissue section. The hemorrhoid is removed, and the incision is then closed.
This is usually an outpatient procedure, and patients can return home the same day the procedure is carried out. Recovery is usually a 2-3 week process that involves some pain and discomfort. The first few bowel movements after surgery are likely to contain a small amount of blood.
Medication can be used to help relieve pain, and ice packs or warm baths can also help reduce the discomfort. It is recommended that patients eat a high-fiber diet following surgery to ensure that bowel movements do not require excess straining.