Haemorrhoids are the most common proctological ailment.
Taken from the Greek word prōktós (anus), proctology includes the study and treatment of haemorrhoids, the most common proctological ailment. Many of us are likely to suffer at some point from haemorrhoidal disease, as we all have haemorrhoidal nodules. Only when they become inflamed do they require treatment.
What can cause haemorrhoids?
- chronic constipation and issues passing stools
- a poor diet
- changes in the connective tissue
- overuse of laxatives
- pregnancy and childbirth
- a family history of hemorrhoidal disease
- a sedentary lifestyle.
Haemorrhoids vary in severity:
Level 1 – enlarged haemorrhoidal nodules, visible during a proctological examination. The most common symptom is bleeding after defecation.
Level 2 – haemorrhoidal nodules come out as pressure is placed on the anus, usually due to difficulties passing stools, though the nodules regress spontaneously. Symptoms include discomfort, bleeding, oozing and itching.
Level 3 – haemorrhoidal nodules come out of the anus, requiring manual intervention. The symptoms are pain, bleeding, itching, excessive mucus secretion, stained underwear, irritation and inflammation of the rectal region.
Level 4 – haemorrhoidal nodules come out of the anus and it is not possible to surgically intervene. This may lead to ischaemia. The main symptoms are bleeding, oozing, itching, stained underwear, as well as pain.
How can we prevent haemorrhoids?
– Maintain a high fibre diet to assist regular bowel movement and prevent constipation.
– Eat plenty of vegetables, fruit, wholemeal bread, bran.
– Drink at least 1.5-2 litres of still water daily.
– Avoiding coffee, strong tea, hot spices and alcohol.
Fact or myth
The risk factors associated with the occurrence of the haemorrhoidal disease include: chronic constipation and problems passing stools, faecal retention in the rectum ampulla, chronic use of laxatives, diarrhoea, a family history of haemorrhoids, pregnancy and the perinatal period, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and weight training.
There are no differences between the sexes when it comes to the prevalence of haemorrhoids.
A low-fibre diet commonly leads to the appearance of haemorrhoids. Consume plenty of fruit and veg, as well as servings of wholemeal bread and nuts to help alleviate symptoms.
During pregnancy, changes in the body can lead to haemorrhoids. The main complications are: uterine pressure on some veins in the abdominal cavity and uterus, which can lead to chronic constipation; an increase in progesterone, which may result in a greater stretching of the vein walls.
Taking anticoagulants and antiplatelet pharmaceuticals used in cardiovascular conditions may increase the bleeding associated with haemorrhoidal disease. In addition, be wary of medicines containing acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin), which are often found in many basic, over-the-counter medicinal products for the treatment of colds. These medicines can increase bleeding.
If there is rectal bleeding, or there are traces of blood in a stool, it is vital to consult a doctor. Although most often the bleeding is down to haemorrhoids, it can be an indication of colon cancer, which is curable when diagnosed early.
The use of rectal suppositories in the course of the haemorrhoidal disease may be followed by the use of a gel reducing the symptoms associated with external haemorrhoids. It is best to use a combination of treatments to tackle haemorrhoids as the haemorrhoids can be both inside the anus, and around it. That’s why we recommend using suppositories in conjunction with a gel.
Pregnant women can use some anti-haemorrhoidal products when milder methods of treatment are not effective. However, it is recommended that the patient should consult a doctor to determine the best course of action.
To help prevent haemorrhoidal disease, it is integral to maintain a fibre-rich diet, to consume at least 1.5 litres of still water a day, to exercise, and to avoid serious physical exertion that may increase abdominal pressure e.g. lifting weights.