Hemorrhoid banding is a very simple and pain-free method of removing hemorrhoids. It requires no non-invasive surgery and is done by inserting a rubber band ligator, like the Nexus System, into your anus (for internal hemorrhoids) via an anoscope, pulling the hemorrhoid taut and away from the rectal wall, and placing a rubber bacd around it. The band cuts off blood flow to the hemorrhoid, causing it to wither away and fall off. [Read more…]
For many patients, hemorrhoids are merely an annoyance and will resolve on their own with simple care. But when a hemorrhoid becomes serious enough, a patient will come to your office seeking treatment — and perhaps surgery.
But when will a hemorrhoid require surgery? There are several factors you should take into consideration based on the type of hemorrhoid the patient has and the types of treatment options used in the past. [Read more…]
If you suffer from hemorrhoids, you may have used over-the-counter hemorrhoid treatments to relieve symptoms. But are these medications as useful as you think?
Medicated Over-The-Counter Hemorrhoid Treatments
Medicated over-the-counter hemorrhoid treatments include products like creams, pads, and suppositories that contain medications like hydrocortisone, witch hazel, or numbing agents to relieve pain and itching. Oral pain relievers like Tylenol and Advil can also help treat hemorrhoid symptoms.
Brands like Preparation H include a decongestant that acts like a vasoconstrictor, meaning it shrinks blood vessels and temporarily relives pain and swelling associated with hemorrhoids. This medication can come in creams, suppositories, or pads.
These treatments are considered effective in treating the symptoms of hemorrhoids. Do not use over-the-counter hemorrhoid treatments for more than a week unless directed by your doctor.
Over-application of treatments like pads and creams can cause your skin to thin out. If you have certain medical problems like high blood pressure or you are taking certain medications, talk to your doctor before starting a home treatment regimen.
Non-Medicated Over-The-Counter Hemorrhoid Treatments
There are also non-medicated over-the-counter hemorrhoid treatments that include:
- Sitz baths: These warm baths can help reduce swelling and relaxes your muscles.
- Cold packs: Ice helps numb pain and reduce swelling. Remember to wrap the ice in a towel and apply for only several minutes at a time to prevent ice burns.
- Eating high-fiber foods: A fiber-rich diet makes going easier and helping prevent constipation that can worsen hemorrhoids.
- Moist wipes: These wipes are gentler than dry tissue paper and will not irritate hemorrhoids as much. Wipes can also be medicated and contain ingredients like witch hazel and aloe.
These treatments are considered effective in helping relieve pain, itching, and swelling associated with hemorrhoids and are sometimes the only treatment some people need to find relief.
However, it is important to remember to use caution while self-treating at home — especially if taking dietary supplements or using “natural” remedies. These can interfere with prescription medications you may be taking or irritate your skin. Before starting at-home hemorrhoid treatments, talk to your doctor.
What If Over-The-Counter Treatments Are Ineffective?
Despite the effectiveness of over-the-counter hemorrhoid treatments, it’s important to remember that what works for one person may not for another.
If you find that your hemorrhoids aren’t responding to over-the-counter hemorrhoid treatments, reach out to your doctor to discuss non-surgical treatment options like rubber band ligation. Your doctor will be able to recommend treatment options based on your needs.
You can sometimes prevent hemorrhoids from developing in the first place by living a healthy lifestyle and practicing healthy bathroom habits like not straining or sitting on the toilet too long. If your hemorrhoids start bleeding, contact your doctor.
Hemorrhoids are simple to treat and a very common condition. But what about diagnosing them? The symptoms of hemorrhoids can vary from person to person, and some may show no symptoms at all while others are similar to other conditions.
There are two initial methods for diagnosing a patient with hemorrhoids:
- Digital Examination
- Visual Inspection
Walk Patients Through Diagnosis
Examinations can cause stress and anxiety in patients. Before you begin digital or visual examinations to diagnose hemorrhoids, explain to them in simple terms what to expect and that this examination is very routine.
While performing the examination, let patients know what you’re doing and what you’ll do next. This will help alleviate any anxiety about the procedure.
Digital & Visual Examination
During a digital exam, a gloved, lubricated finger is inserted into the rectum. If hemorrhoids are present, you should feel abnormal growths that are the swollen veins. This is a signal that further testing is needed to not only diagnose hemorrhoids, but also rule out other conditions.
If swollen veins cannot be felt, you may also perform a visual examination with an anoscope, procotoscope, or sigmoidoscope. This will allow you to see any problems related to rectal bleeding as well as diagnose hemorrhoids that are too soft to be felt by a digital examination.
Rule Out Other Conditions
- Colon cancer
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Pelvic inflammatory disease
Ask your patient about any other symptoms they have been experiencing and whether any have changed or worsened. This could indicate a larger problem. Also reassure your patients that there is no need to worry about hemorrhoids leading to cancer since the two are unrelated.
Referring Patients To A Specialist
If hemorrhoids are diagnosed and can be treated via methods like rubber band ligation, it is advised to refer them to a doctor who specializes and is trained in proctology procedures for safe and effective treatment.
Remind patients that many hemorrhoids can heal on their own and to alleviate symptoms at home via methods like sitz baths and using topical treatments like hemorrhoid creams. Follow up with them to ensure their symptoms do not worsen.
No one likes talking about hemorrhoids in everyday conversation, and it is common to feel embarrassed about them. However, it is important not to let this feeling prevent you from seeking proper medical care. Understanding what hemorrhoids are will help you as a patient realize that there is nothing to be embarrassed about so you can seek the diagnosis and treatment you need. [Read more…]