Once you develop hemorrhoids, they don't usually go away completely unless you undergo one of the procedures below. They can get better, however, so that living with them is tolerable. Both conventional and alternative practitioners consider diet the best treatment for hemorrhoids. A diet rich in high-fiber foods and low in processed foods is essential. Increasing fluid intake to six to eight eight-ounce glasses a day also is important. Probably half of all hemorrhoid sufferers find relief with dietary changes alone.
Most hemorrhoid treatments aim to minimize pain and itching. Warm (but not hot) sitz baths are the most time-honored and oft-suggested therapy: Sit in about three inches of warm water for 15 minutes, several times a day, especially after a bowel movement. If you are pregnant, discuss any treatment, including dietary changes, with your doctor before proceeding.
If you have been diagnosed with hemorrhoids, a high-fiber diet combined with sitz baths and acetaminophen should reduce discomfort within two weeks. If symptoms persist, your physician may suggest one of the following procedures. Many can be performed in your doctor's office.
Injection. An internal hemorrhoid can be injected with a solution which creates a scar and closes off the hemorrhoid. The injection hurts only a little, as any injection does.
Banding. Prolapsed hemorrhoids are often removed using rubber-band ligation. A special tool secures a tiny rubber band around the hemorrhoid, shutting off its blood supply almost instantly. Within a week, the hemorrhoid shrivels and falls off.
Coagulation or cauterization. Using either an electric probe, a laser beam, or an infrared light, a tiny burn painlessly seals the end of the hemorrhoid, causing it to close off and shrink. This is most useful for prolapsed hemorrhoids.
Surgery. For large internal hemorrhoids or extremely uncomfortable external hemorrhoids (such as thrombosed hemorrhoids that are too painful to live with), your doctor may elect traditional surgery, called hemorrhoidectomy.
The success rate for hemorrhoid removal approaches 95%, but unless dietary and lifestyle changes are made, hemorrhoids may recur.
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