Hemorrhoids (Piles) (cont.)
Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM
Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
In this Article
- Definition of hemorrhoid
- What causes hemorrhoids?
- What are the signs and symptoms of a hemorrhoid?
- What does a hemorrhoid look like?
- How is the diagnosis of hemorrhoids made?
- How are hemorrhoids treated?
- OTC medications and home remedies for hemorrhoids
- Non-surgical approaches
- Hemorrhoid surgery
- What is the prognosis for hemorrhoids?
- Pictures of Hemorrhoids - Slideshow
- Take the Hemorrhoids Quiz!
- Pictures of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) - Slideshow
- Hemorrhoids (Piles) FAQs
- Find a local Gastroenterologist in your town
OTC medications and home remedies for hemorrhoids
Grade 1 hemorrhoids are treated symptomatically. There can be some spasm of the anal muscles. Warm sitz baths, sitting in a warm tub for 20 minutes, two or three times a day may be helpful. Avoiding spicy food may also prevent anal itching. Over-the-counter medications may be helpful.
- Medications are used to control symptoms by softening the stool, decreasing the inflammation of the hemorrhoids and treating the pain.
- Stool softeners work by increasing the water and fat content within the stool allowing it to be passed more easily. Docusate sodium is most often recommended drug in this class (Colace, Surfak, Correctal).
- Inflammation can be controlled with over-the-counter creams or suppositories. Some brand ingredients (Preparation H) include low dose topical anesthetics to help with symptoms. Others (Anusol, witch hazel) contain astringents that help shrink the swollen tissues. Both may contain low dose steroids (hydrocortisone) to decrease inflammation. People with diabetes should check with their pharmacist or health care professional before using OTC hemorrhoid treatments. If the medication contains a vasoconstrictor (for example, phenylephrine HCI, ephedrine, or epinephrine) it may elevate blood sugar levels if absorbed in large amounts.
- Prescription strength lidocaine or hydrocortisone may be offered by the health care professional.
Grade 2 and 3 hemorrhoids are initially treated the same way, using techniques to destroy the hemorrhoid. These include injecting the hemorrhoid vein to make it sclerose or harden, using rubber bands to choke off the blood supply and make the hemorrhoidal tissue shrivel, or other procedures that cause the mucosa to shrivel and die.
Next: Hemorrhoid surgery
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