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Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swollen and inflamed veins in the lower rectum and anus. They can be internal (inside the rectum) or external (outside the anus).

Symptoms of hemorrhoids may include:

  • Pain or discomfort in the anal area

  • Itching or irritation in the anus

  • Swelling or a lump around the anus

  • Bleeding during bowel movements

  • Mucus discharge from the anus

  • Inability to completely empty the bowels

Red flags that may indicate a more serious condition include:

  • Persistent or severe bleeding

  • Severe pain or discomfort

  • Changes in bowel habits

  • Fecal incontinence

  • Prolapse (protrusion) of the hemorrhoid outside the anus

Treatment for hemorrhoids typically depends on the severity and type of hemorrhoid. Self-care measures can also help alleviate symptoms and promote healing, including:

  • Increasing fiber intake and drinking plenty of water to soften the stool and reduce constipation

  • Using over-the-counter creams, ointments, or suppositories that contain hydrocortisone or witch hazel to reduce swelling and itching

  • Taking sitz baths (soaking the affected area in warm water) several times a day to reduce pain and swelling

  • Using moist wipes or baby wipes instead of dry toilet paper to avoid further irritation

In severe cases or if symptoms do not improve with self-care measures, referral to a healthcare provider may be necessary. They may recommend medical treatments such as:

  • Rubber band ligation, in which a rubber band is placed around the base of the hemorrhoid to cut off circulation and cause it to shrink and fall off

  • Sclerotherapy, in which a chemical solution is injected into the hemorrhoid to shrink it

  • Hemorrhoidectomy, in which the hemorrhoid is surgically removed

Prevention measures include maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle to avoid constipation, not straining during bowel movements, and avoiding sitting for long periods of time.

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