What are Hemorrhoids?
The term “hemorrhoids” is often used to refer to the disease, but a hemorrhoid is a structure full of blood vessels inside the anus. These structures aren’t just there for no reason, instead serving a distinct physiological function. The anal canal hosts a number of these structures, and their purpose is to act as cushions for controlling bowel movements. The hemorrhoid cushions consist of blood vessels, smooth muscle, elastic tissue, and connective tissue.
However, swelling or inflammation can affect hemorrhoids, causing the “disease.” We do not understand precisely why this happens – only the risk factors that contribute to the problem. But when it does, hemorrhoids can be of two types: internal or external.
Internal hemorrhoids can bleed internally, and when evacuating your bowels, you may experience bright red bleeding. But this is often painless. Also, the bright red color is no cause for alarm, as it simply shares its constituents with blood in your arteries.
But when a hemorrhoid swells and protrudes out of the anus, it becomes an external hemorrhoid. These can also pose little to no problems other than mild discomfort. However, if a blood clot forms within an external hemorrhoid (thrombosis), the pain can be very severe.
How Long Do Hemorrhoids Last? What about Treatment?
So, fortunately, hemorrhoids generally tend to heal without any treatment. Even the pain in a thrombosed hemorrhoid tends to subside within a few days. The swelling may take longer to resolve. A larger hemorrhoid may leave a skin tag as it heals.
If you visit a doctor, they will examine the anal area with a physical inspection. Many people feel embarrassed and avoid seeing a doctor until their issue bothers them severely, but a trained specialist will take care of the problem safely and effectively.
Your doctor can prescribe a medicated cream to apply to the affected area, which can help dramatically reduce pain using a local anesthetic like lidocaine. They may recommend immersing the site in a warm saltwater bath and prescribe rest.
If the anus and surrounding region are itchy, it’s important not to irritate or scratch the area, as rashes or bleeding may result. Maintaining proper hygiene is essential, and you must be delicate but thorough with the cleaning. You must also avoid sitting on the toilet for too long or straining while defecating.
At home, you can help prevent hemorrhoids by increasing the amount of fiber in your diet, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and spending less time on the toilet. Bowel movements should be relatively quick and straining, while defecating can signal a lack of fiber in your diet. Longer-term, it’s best to lose weight if you’re overweight and exercise regularly.
We hope that this guide has given you a better idea of how long hemorrhoids last. If you’d like a physical examination of your hemorrhoid problem, it’s best to visit a specialist. At Gastroenterology Diagnostic Center, we specialize in the high-quality treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. If you’d like to schedule a consultation with our board-certified gastroenterologists, give us a call at (281) 357-1977. We’ll be happy to help you.