Getting to the bottom of haemorrhoids

Haemorrhoids are a real pain in the... you know where!

Haemorrhoids (also known as piles) are swollen and inflamed veins in the rectum (internal) or anus (external).


It is a very common complaint - about 50 per cent of adults have them by the time they turn 50 - so it's important to know what to do when they occur!


Causes


- Constipation: prolonged straining to pass a bowel motion

- Diarrhoea

- Being overweight

- Sitting on the toilet for a long time

- Pregnancy and childbirth


Lifestyle Tips


Selfcare is important to manage this condition:

  • Apply a cold compress to the area for relief

  • A warm salt bath may help painful haemorrhoids

  • Use fragrance-free wet wipes instead of toilet paper to clean the area

  • Avoid soap as this may further aggravate the problem

  • Avoid scratching the area

  • Wear cotton underwear to minimise discomfort

  • Treat any constipation or diarrhoea

  • Eat a high-fibre diet and drink plenty of fluids (introduce fibre gradually into your diet)

  • Exercise regularly

  • Keep stools soft and avoid straining when having a bowel motion

  • Always go to the toilet as soon as you feel the need to go. Do not 'hold on'.


Treatments


Our 5 first line treatments to consider:


  1. Diet changes to soften stools. Recommendations include increasing the amount of fibre in the diet through fruits, vegetables and whole grains or taking a fibre supplement. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water each day to prevent stool to become hard and more difficult to pass.

  2. Avoid straining. Straining increases the pressure in the veins in and around the anus, which increases the risk of developing haemorrhoids or making them worse. If you find yourself holding your breath while pushing, stop! Keep breathing evenly which will decrease the work required to have a bowel movement.

  3. Exercise regularly. Exercise helps the intestinal tract to more more consistently.

  4. Topical treatments. There are a number of over the counter creams and ointments that can help reduce mild discomfort such as Anusol and Proctosedyl. These products contain ingredients like witch hazel or hydrocortisone that help to reduce pain, swelling and itching. There are also natural products like Weleda Haemorrhoidal Ointment that use herbal ingredients to soothe the area.

  5. Lose weight if you are overweight.


Although most haemorrhoids can be easily treated at the pharmacy, a diagnosis needs to be made by your doctor after careful physical examination to make sure there isn't any other underlying medical condition that needs different treatment. This is especially important if you are bleeding a lot and it does not clear within 2 days, black tarry stool, changes in bowel habits that do not return to normal, sharp and strong pain when passing a bowel motion, or any symptoms that do not improve with self care measures and medicines.


We have a private consultation room if you want to come in and discuss anything further.


Nga mihi,

Pharmacist Jenna




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