Anal symptoms are often caused by hemorrhoids, a collection of veins, arteries, nerves and connective tissue in the wall of the anorectum. This normal complex of tissue may enlarge over time, prolapse (fall out of the anus) and cause symptoms. Internal hemorrhoids occur above the boundary between the rectum and anus. External hemorrhoids are those that form below the anorectal junction. Despite their labels of internal and external, both types may either remain within the anus or protrude outwards. Symptoms and treatment of hemorrhoids are determined by location of the hemorrhoids and severity of the disease.
Why Should You Seek Medical Hemorrhoid Treatment?
Hemorrhoidal symptoms include:
- Bleeding, especially after bowel movements
- Itching, skin irritation or burning
- Rectal discomfort or pain
- A rectal discharge
Pregnant women, especially in their later stages, commonly require a form of medical hemorrhoidal treatment. However, most patients have no obvious risk factors for the development of symptoms. For most, hemorrhoids are not a serious condition, but for others hemorrhoidal symptoms may be a sign of a more serious issue such as an anal or rectal tumor. An examination of the anus and rectum with an anoscope, a short and rigid, hollow tube, will allow your physician to determine if your pain is a product of swollen hemorrhoids or something else. A proctologist, also known as a colon and rectal specialist, specializes in the medical and surgical treatments.
There are several types of treatments for hemorrhoids, and knowing which will best benefit you can only be determined by your doctor. Non-surgical medical alternatives are generally prescribed initially to help treat the hemorrhoidal symptoms.
These treatment options include:
- Ointments such as zinc oxide or petroleum jelly which will help protect irritated skin. Another ointment option is one that contains at least 1% hydrocortisone. This is also available in a stronger, prescription strength. Hydrocortisone is a steroid that will help relieve inflammation and itching. It must be used judiciously under the guidance of your physician.
- Oral pain medications including acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen can help to reduce swelling and alleviate discomfort.
- Suppositories that will lubricate the anal canal during bowel movements and help relieve irritation, such as those offered by Preparation H or Tucks. These should not be considered a long term solution, as prolonged use may cause harm to the anal tissues.
- Local anesthetics are available to help numb the anal canal, thus making bowel movements less painful.
- Stool softeners may also help lessen discomfort by relieving straining that occurs during bowel movements.
Speaking with your doctor at Los Angeles Colon and Rectal Surgical Associates is the best way to determine which treatment option is best for you. If you continue to experience symptoms after treating your hemorrhoids with one or more of these medical measures, you may wish to discuss further treatment options with your physician. These include office procedures and surgical procedures. (310)273-2310.