Hemorrhoids. It was the number-one trending and most frequently searched health issue on the Internet for 2012, reported the United States Food and Drug Administration. The painful truth is that up to 75 percent of us will be affected by hemorrhoids at some time in our lives, according to the National Institutes of Health.
What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen or dilated blood vessels located inside the anus (internal hemorrhoids) or around the exterior of the anus (external hemorrhoids).
What causes hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are often caused by a combination of many things, including straining during bowel movements, frequent constipation or diarrhea, as well as pregnancy and cirrhosis of the liver.
What are the symptoms of hemorrhoids?
Symptoms may include pain and pressure in the anal canal, a grapelike lump on the anus, itching and soreness in and around the anus; and/or blood on underwear, toilet paper, the surface of the stool or in the toilet bowl. Symptoms often get worse after straining during constipation and overly aggressive wiping after a bowel movement.
“It’s not surprising that people are turning to the Internet for answers about hemorrhoids. They’re so common, yet people are embarrassed by the stigma of hemorrhoids,” says General Surgeon Adam Conn, M.D. While some people may joke about the condition, hemorrhoid suffers aren’t laughing. “Having hemorrhoids can be life altering. I’ve seen patients who dread sitting down and patients who avoid going out in public, because they’re so uncomfortable and worried that bleeding from hemorrhoids may stain their clothes,” he says.
Patients also avoid treatment because they’ve heard about the pain and recovery time after traditional procedures, says Dr. Conn. Until recently, traditional treatments were limited to dietary changes, topical ointments or invasive and painful procedures with extensive recovery periods. Eliminating or shrinking hemorrhoids was once limited to procedures like rubber band ligation, which shrinks the blood supply to hemorrhoids using a small rubber band; sclerotherapy involving chemical injections; or a complete hemorrhoidectomy requiring an incision and weeks of painful recovery.
“Thankfully, we now have a new, less traumatic option for treating painful hemorrhoids. With THD, patients can find relief and get back to enjoying life,” says Dr. Conn.