Haemorrhoids are actually varicose veins located on the rectum or anus. These can become swollen and painful.
Tenderness or pain during bowel movements
Painful swelling or a lump near the anus
A mucous discharge from the anus
Haemorrhoids are caused by pressure or straining on the blood vessels of the anus and rectum. If the blood vessels are weak, the increased pressure can cause them to swell and become painful.
Sources of this pressure include obesity, pregnancy, standing and sitting for long periods, liver disease, straining from constipation or diarrhoea, coughing, sneezing, and vomiting. A genetic component is also believed to play a role in the development of haemorrhoids.
Witch Hazel ointment can help to relieve the pain and swelling of haemorrhoids
Horsechestnut tablets are used to improve the tone of the inflamed blood vessels and make them less susceptible to pressure over a moderately long period
Fibre supplements such as slippery elm and linseed reduce the pressure on the blood vessels by lubricating the stool and increasing its size, making it easier to pass
Vitamin C and bioflavonoids, along with vitamin E improve the tone and elasticity of the blood vessels
Improving your diet is the first step to controlling haemorrhoids. Make sure you eat a high-fibre diet and drink at least 8 glasses of water per day.
Avoid straining and lifting heavy objects when haemorrhoids are troublesome, as this can increase the pressure on the veins.
Use good hygiene and keep the anal area clean to prevent infection. Don’t scratch haemorrhoids as they may become infected.
Fibre and water are both important for bowel regularity. Aim to maintain a good balance between soluble fibre (such as psyllium or apple fibre, which has the ability to absorb a lot of water and produces a soft stool), and insoluble fibre (such as wheat bran, which produces a larger, but harder stool).
Bleeding from the bowel always requires further medical investigation to determine the cause – consult your healthcare professional for more information.
You should also discuss with your healthcare professional persistent pain and changes in bowel habits that last for longer than two weeks.