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Hemorrhoids are veins in the mucous membrane of the anus or rectum. They are common in some people, but not significant unless they become swollen and irritated. Hemorrhoids can cause itching, burning and sometimes bleeding. There are two kinds of hemorrhoids (or sometimes called piles); external, those involving veins below the anorectal line and internal ones that are above the anorectal line.
The main causes of hemorrhoids are from constipation leading to straining during bowel movements, prolonged sitting, heavy lifting and sometimes a result from an anorectal infection. Fortunately hemorrhoids are more an annoyance than a disease and prevention is the key to this uncomfortable situation. If you have bleeding, it may be time to consult your doctor about this issue. For others, this guide on how to treat and cure hemorrhoids at home may be helpful.
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Soften the Stools
Eating high fiber foods will help to soften the stools and get the bowels moving in the right direction. Increase your intake of fruits, whole grains and vegetables. Veggies that contain a good amount of fiber are asparagus, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, corn, peas, parsnips and kale.
Some people cannot consume all these foods and opt for fiber supplements that contain psyllium seeds, like Metamucil. This product helps to make the stool softer and easier to pass, putting less pressure on the veins and not causing pain. There are also other OTC products like Citrucel, which contains methylcellulose (a plant-based cellulose) that helps bind to the stool. It's important to start slowly with your fiber supplements to not produce gas and drink plenty of water.
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Reach For An Ointment
There are many soothing ointments over the counter for hemorrhoids, however these are only temporary solutions. Preparation H is well known, containing a live yeast cell derivative and shark liver oil. According to the manufacturer, it helps to relieve pain, itching and swelling. Other hemorrhoids sufferers feel that petroleum jelly works the same way at half the cost.
Butcher's Broom is an herb that is believed to have the same effect as the over-the-counter hemorrhoidal preparations. It's an astringent herb that works to shrink the swollen tissues. It is an ingredient in some herbal ointments or can be made by adding the powder to a small amount of beeswax. This is to be applied topically.
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One of the most important therapies for hemorrhoids is sitting in water. Sitting in a tub of warm water or sitz bath for about 10 minutes, several times a day is a must for relieving the discomfort and a good way to heal the swollen tissues. This method mostly applies to external hemorrhoids, however the warmth of the water brings relief to the entire anal/rectal areas.
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Flavonoids Are Helpful
Flavonoids are natural healing compounds that are found in fresh fruits and vegetables that help strengthen the anal veins and helping to prevent hemorrhoids. They also can help hemorrhoids heal. Foods that contain flavonoids are apples, apricots, blueberries, pears, raspberries, strawberries, black beans, cabbage, onions, parsley, pinto beans and tomatoes.
Look for supplements that contain rutin, citrus bioflavonoids and hydroxyethylrutosides. They can be found in most health food stores.
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The Bottom Line and Sources
Swollen anal and rectal veins are hemorrhoids and are very uncomfortable to deal with. The best way to treat these problems is to prevent them from getting started. Use this guide on how to treat and cure hemorrhoids at home for prevention and to soothe the pain when it happens. If these remedies do not help then it is time to visit your physician who can prescribe steroidal medications and/or more extensive treatments.
Hemorrhoids - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001337/
Citrucel - http://www.citrucel.com/
Psyllium - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0000092/
Alternative Cures by Bill Gottlieb [Rodale Press, 2000]
Photo credit - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hemorroides.png