In this article, discover the whole truth about hemorrhoids. What are hemorrhoids? How do you know if you have hemorrhoids? What is the origin of hemorrhoidal disease? How to differentiate internal hemorrhoids from external ones?
In the range of the most taboo pathologies in the world, hemorrhoids figure prominently. If there is so much unspoken about this disease, it is because it is considered shameful. Most sufferers do so silently for fear of being stigmatized, preferring unofficial sources of information. As a result, many misconceptions are circulating about hemorrhoids, fueling a general psychosis that only reinforces stigma.
Collective awareness is attracting interest from pharmaceutical companies, which are now paying more attention to anti-hemorrhoidal treatment. Given the number of patients, it must be said that it is a flourishing market, composed of patients in search of effective solutions, even radical to their problem.
Many hemorrhoidal treatments today are more curative than preventive, taking the form of capsules, suppositories, or creams. If for the most part, they serve to calm the symptoms, very few patients know that there are definitive curative treatments to cure hemorrhoids. Whether for symptomatic relief or healing, everything is in a good knowledge of the evil and appropriate solutions to each case.
Although more and more people are talking about it, there are many sick people who realize too late that they have hemorrhoids. The lack of information, the shame of consultation or self-medication are all reasons why patients suffer their pain for several years. Knowing better what one suffers is the best way to deal with it.
I – How Do You Know If You Have Hemorrhoids?
It would be more appropriate to talk about hemorrhoids disease, because, in reality, hemorrhoids are networks of blood vessels twisted around each other. Most of these are veins and arteries forming what are known as hemorrhoidal bundles.
Normally, these networks of vessels are completely harmless, because they are quite normal formations. During defecation, these tend to dilate slightly, but they always return to their normal state. Only when they are subject to swelling, itching, pain or bleeding is it called hemorrhoidal disease.
Hemorrhoidal disease is actually a permanent dilation of these blood vessels. The manifestations mentioned above can, therefore, affect both internal and external hemorrhoids. Of course, these manifestations are triggered by a series of factors.
II – What Is the Origin of Hemorrhoids?
If the vessels of the anal area remain dilated permanently, it is because they are subjected to intense and repeated pressure. This implies that hemorrhoidal disease does not appear overnight. It is the result of a long process, usually only beginning in the thirties, although some factors may make it appear much earlier.
The pressure that the anal vessels undergo has several origins:
– Natural factors
– Intestinal disorders
– The pregnancy
– Physical inactivity
Since each of them is not of clinical origin, it would be more appropriate to consider them as factors.
1. Natural Factors
Most of these are factors due to age or heredity. Both are totally independent of the individual but may be reinforced by external factors such as poor diet, intestinal disorders, pregnancy, or sedentary lifestyle.
It can be considered a natural factor, with a prevalence of 50% in people over 50 years old. The appearance of hemorrhoids at this age is indeed due to a natural relaxation of all body tissues, including the vessels of the anus and rectum.
On their own, however, the effects of age remain derisory if they are not associated with an unhealthy lifestyle throughout life. This increases the weakening of the veins.
Like hundreds of diseases, hemorrhoidal disease is hereditary. This means that if one of your ancestors has suffered, you have every chance to develop it too.
However, it is important to note that its inheritance is much more the sharing of the same lifestyle, especially in terms of food. You are more predisposed to developing hemorrhoids if, in your family, food hygiene is not healthy. It is, therefore, possible to escape this fatality by adopting a better way of life.
Among the causes of the occurrence of hemorrhoids, food hygiene is a major factor. This is one of the first sources of pressure in the anal area.
*** Constipation, an Aggravating Factor
The condition of the stool depends on what you eat. A diet is rich in fiber guarantees gentle defecation. On the contrary, a diet low in fiber usually leads to more difficult and painful defecation.
Poverty or lack of fiber in your diet is one of the common causes of constipation. When one is often constipated, the wall of the anus and the lower part of the rectum are subject to more pressure, hence the permanent dilatation.
The best way to limit this pressure is to avoid constipation. To do this, it is recommended to eat foods rich in fiber, such as fruits and vegetables, to facilitate intestinal transit and thinning the stool naturally. It is also important to avoid a number of foods that only increase constipation.
*** Food Aggravating the Hemorrhoidal Disease
Some risky eating behaviors are aggravating factors of hemorrhoidal disease. Not only do they annihilate efforts to prevent hemorrhoids, but they aggravate the disease.
– Starchy Foods
In most households, starchy foods are the main source of food. Yet these are important constipation factors because naturally very low in fiber and far too rich in starch. If it is not possible to ban them from your diet, it is advisable to limit their consumption. These include cereals (wheat, oats, bran, flax, rye, etc.) and their derivatives (bread, pastry) – corn – pasta – rice – bulgur – soy.
– The Bad Fat
He is best known for his involvement in weight gain and cardiovascular disease. However, bad fat is also an important dietary factor that aggravates the appearance of hemorrhoids.
When ingested, the bad fat is poorly absorbed by the body because it is usually saturated fat. It stagnates thus, obstructing the veins and the arteries and preventing good blood circulation. Under pressure, the blood vessels swell disproportionately and expand.
Among the foods richest in saturated fats are hydrogenated oils (palm oil, coconut oil …) – fish oils (sardines, cod liver, herring, salmon …) – animal fats (ham, bacon, bacon …) – processed meats (sausage, pâté …) – cheeses (Cheddar, Roquefort, Gruyère, Parmesan …) – butter.
– The Alcohol
Speeches about the harm of alcohol on health are commonplace and usually focus on damage to heart and liver health. What very few people know is that alcohol is an aggravating factor of hemorrhoids.
Alcohol is indeed a desiccant of the body, that is to say, it deprives your body of water, even though the hydration is conducive to good intestinal transit. Drinking alters the ability of your body to thin your stool and avoid constipation.
The relationship between hemorrhoids and caffeine has recently been established. Their incompatibility is due to the fact that caffeine has the same effect as alcohol, that is to say, it dehydrates, generating constipation.
The hardening and drying of stools irritate hemorrhoids and cause bleeding. On the other hand, caffeine also increases blood pressure, causing the dilation of the blood vessels.
While drinking plenty of water helps to eliminate caffeine from your body, it’s best to simply avoid caffeine-rich foods such as coffee, even decaffeinated – caffeinated chewing gum – caffeinated food supplements – drinks energy – dark chocolate – cocoa – tea.
When you smoke, it’s not just your lungs and the environment that suffer. You also increase, to a certain extent, the risk of hemorrhoidal disease.
Indeed, tobacco accelerates the aging of blood vessels and tissues. Over time, the weakened veins are less resistant to pressure. When you smoke, you reduce your body’s chances of resisting a hemorrhoids attack.
If in some countries in Africa and Asia, eating spicy is quite normal, the trend is recent in Western countries. We owe this food revolution to gastronomic tourism and the import of food habits.
While hot spices such as chili are important sources of antioxidants, they are completely incompatible with hemorrhoids. They tend to aggravate discomfort, itching, and pain and increase bowel problems.
3. Bowel Disorders
They manifest themselves in various ways: bloating, intestinal gas, stomach ache, diarrhea. Their manifestations are as varied as their causes. Indeed, if intestinal disorders find their causes in a poor diet, they can also occur in several cases.
Still called functional, irritable bowel syndrome is a highly recurrent intestinal disorder, characterized by dysfunction of the digestive tract, especially the large intestine.
The role of the colon is to evacuate debris not ingested by the body, constituting the stool. In the case of a dysfunction of the colon, it becomes hypersensitive and contravenes its original role.
Functional colopathy is then manifested by either hyperactivity resulting in diarrhea or a slowdown leading to constipation. However, these two events exert pressure on the wall of your anal area, thus promoting the risk of hemorrhoidal disease or aggravating hemorrhoids attacks.
Other causes of chronic diseases such as Crohn’s disease, diverticulosis, or a tumor include intestinal disorders.
*** Food Intolerances
We talk about food intolerance when a person’s body is unable to digest food because of a deficiency of the enzyme responsible for its digestion.
Lactose and gluten intolerances are the most common. In the first case, there is the talk of lactase deficiency, the enzyme for digesting lactose contained in cow’s milk. However, lactose intolerance should not be confused with an allergy to cow’s milk protein, which corresponds to an immune reaction of the body against certain proteins contained in cow’s milk.
As for gluten intolerance, it is an inability of the body to digest gluten, a protein found in many kinds of cereal such as wheat, barley, oats, or rye, and their derivatives.
In the best case, intolerance is bloating, flatulence, and, at worst, stomach ache, constipation, or chronic diarrhea.
Laxatives and antidepressants are leading drugs that aggravate hemorrhoids attacks. Generally used as a treatment against constipation, laxatives are presented as a solution against hemorrhoids. But beware of these miracle solutions.
If their role is to soften the stool and facilitate bowel movement, stool frequency pressure is similar to that of diarrhea. By dilating as often, the blood vessels of the anal area become fragile. Which may eventually aggravate hemorrhoids.
As unlikely as it may seem, antidepressants also fall into the category of drugs that aggravate the hemorrhoidal disease. One of the side effects of these medications is a food disorder. They incite to eat anything and everything, usually foods that contravene anti-hemorrhoid prevention.
Unfortunately, pregnancy and hemorrhoidal disease rhyme together for 40% of pregnant women. If hemorrhoidal disease is also common during this period of life, it is because of several factors that follow each other and inevitably lead to the appearance of hemorrhoids.
*** Hormonal Changes
From the beginning of pregnancy, the body of the pregnant woman is subject to a surge of hormones of any kind, first by the ovaries, then by the placenta.
It is first the level of progesterone and estrogen that explodes. These two hormones contribute to the good implantation of the embryo in the uterine wall and the increase of the size of the latter to be able to support the growth of the baby.
This is followed by the production of oxytocin, also called the birth hormone. It is indeed this hormone that is at the origin of the triggering of uterine contractions. The direct consequence of this explosion of hormones is vascular hyper pressure.
*** Vascular Overpressure
During pregnancy, the general vascular pressure increases under the action of hormones. These increase the vascularization of the body in order to allow the body to be able to provide the necessary oxygen to the uterus.
This hypervascularization puts the heart to the test, which has to pump twice as much blood. However, it is the blood vessels that suffer the most. To pass this amount of blood, they must expand.
In addition, the effects of enlargement of the uterus compress the veins. It is the combined effect of dilatation and compression that promotes the appearance of hemorrhoids.
*** The Constipation
The longer your baby gets older, the bigger your uterus and the more it compresses your organs, especially your digestive system. Which is not to facilitate digestion. Worse still, progesterone acts upstream on the digestive system, slowing down most of the biological processes involved in digestion.
While the stomach takes longer to digest food, all intestinal transit is slowed down considerably. This promotes constipation and prolongs the time of emptying.
5. Sedentary Lifestyle
Sedentary living means understanding the tendency to stay on the spot for a long time. In addition to certain positions of daily life, certain physical activities can be classified as factors conducive to the onset of hemorrhoidal disease.
*** The Extended Sitting Position
With the hyper capitalization of our society, more and more people have become sedentary. While working in an office is perceived as the pinnacle of social success, it is also a vicious circle that encourages the emergence of many health problems.
The reduction of energy expenditure is one of the direct consequences of sedentarisation. It usually leads to weight gain and is a factor contributing to obesity. If normally sitting for too long submits the anal vessels to great pressure, the weight gain tenfold this pressure. Obesity is, therefore, an aggravating factor.
It is also established that sitting too long in the toilet increases the venous tension of hemorrhoids in the anus and rectum. If you do not have the hemorrhoidal disease yet, this unfortunate habit increases your chances of developing it. If, on the contrary, you are already prone to hemorrhoids, you make your problem worse and slow your recovery.
*** Seated Sports
A regular sports activity is a universal recommendation in keeping fit. It is still necessary to know how to choose one’s activities since seated sports have a lot of momentum right now.
Cycling, exercise bike, riding, motorcycle are all sports whose practice will have to be moderated, at the risk of seeing or aggravating hemorrhoids attacks.
III – Internal or External Hemorrhoids?
Although there is usually talk of hemorrhoidal disease, there are usually two variants. Each of them depends in reality on the location of the hemorrhoids, the blood vessels of the anal area being located on two levels.
1. Internal Hemorrhoids – How Do You Know If You Have Hemorrhoids?
When the blood vessels cover the conduit of the anus, we speak of internal hemorrhoids. In the case of a hemorrhoidal crisis, it is the most dangerous form because it has 4 degrees of evolution when the care is not fast.
– The first degree corresponds to the beginning of the hemorrhoidal crisis. At this stage, the manifestations are limited to discomfort, burning, or itching. All this while the hemorrhoids remain inside the anus.
– The second degree corresponds to the association of the initial symptoms with the externalization of the hemorrhoids during the defecation. However, they come back to their normal position as soon as they stop pushing. Small bleeding may occur at this time, accompanied by a feeling of pressure.
– In the third degree, hemorrhoids do not return spontaneously in their place. They must be gently put back inside with the fingers after the stool.
– The fourth degree, the most critical phase, corresponds to the stage where the hemorrhoids cannot be replaced again, even with the fingers, and stay outside. This should not be confused with external hemorrhoids. But this is how do you know if you have hemorrhoids or not.
As long as they stay inside, the hemorrhoids remain completely painless. This makes their diagnosis more difficult than external hemorrhoids.
2. External Hemorrhoids – How Do You Know If You Have Hemorrhoids?
External hemorrhoids are called when the network of vessels is located around the folds of the skin of the anus and part of the rectum. Being located outside, they swell more easily because of the sensitivity of the nerve fibers of this region.
The protuberances appear in the anus due to dilation due to pressure on the veins. Which makes their diagnosis easy. They are also easier to treat than interns.
Apart from the protuberances, the main characteristic of external hemorrhoids is pain. They remain painful even outside the moments of defecation, especially when you stay in a sitting position for a long time. Their external nature exposes them more, adding to the pain the discomfort.
Just like internal hemorrhoids, an external hemorrhoidal crisis has several phases of evolution. An external hemorrhoid changes size, shape, and even color.
– Their Size
At first, it will only be a few millimeters of protuberances. As the crisis evolves, they evolve to the size of a walnut 3 centimeters in diameter. At this point, the protuberances become protrusions.
– Their Shape
External hemorrhoids can take many forms from one individual to another. If in some people they are round or oval, in others they are flattened or creased.
– Their color
Like size, the color of hemorrhoids changes according to the stage of evolution of the crisis. This is a powerful indicator that will support the diagnosis of your doctor.
Indeed, when the crisis is still in its infancy, the protuberances are dark or brown. Some will have the same color as your skin. As the crisis progresses, hemorrhoids become bright red due to blood clogging in the vessels.
At the last stage, they can even turn purple or purplish-blue. We are no longer talking about illness, but about hemorrhoid thrombosis.
Whatever the stage of evolution, it is important to intervene quickly to treat hemorrhoids.