Are Your Hemorrhoids Just a Pain or a Sign of Something More?

You might feel embarrassed talking about hemorrhoids, but it’s essential for your digestive and excretory health. Hemorrhoids happen when the veins in your rectum and anus become inflamed, swollen, and twisted. The condition can be painful and is mostly caused by constipation or pressure during bowel movements. Women may develop hemorrhoids during pregnancy and childbirth.

Symptoms and risks

Symptoms to watch out for include blood in your stool, itching, and rectal pain. If you’re over 50 and notice a regular increase in the amount of blood in your stool, you should see a doctor. The blood may signal abnormal cell growth in your rectum or colon.

At-home treatments

Before resorting to medical treatments, try these home remedies to relieve your hemorrhoids:

Add more fiber and whole foods to your diet

Constipation is a primary cause of hemorrhoids, so adding more fiber and whole foods to your diet can help. Incorporate fibers such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to keep your bowel movements regular. The American Dietetic Association suggests that females should aim for 21-25 grams of fiber per day, while males should aim for 30-38 grams.

Drink plenty of water

Ensuring adequate hydration is essential for regular bowel movements and overall health. Some studies recommend you drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water (i.e., a 150-pound person should drink 75 ounces of water). Drinking water also helps soften your stool, making it easier to pass and reducing the risk of hemorrhoids.

Probiotics for digestion

Adding probiotics to your diet can improve your digestion and prevent constipation. Probiotics can be found naturally in fermented foods, such as yogurt and sauerkraut, or taken as a supplement. According to Harvard Health, they can help balance the gut’s bacteria and provide health benefits.

Apply witch hazel or apple cider vinegar

Dab a cotton ball with witch hazel or apple cider vinegar and apply it to the hemorrhoid. It should start shrinking in about 15 minutes. Wipes and ointments with witch hazel and other natural ingredients are also available.

Soothe with a sitz bath

A sitz bath involves sitting in a shallow bath of warm water for 10 to 15 minutes to help relieve hemorrhoid pain. The warm water can reduce inflammation and help relieve itching and discomfort. You can purchase a sitz bath at a pharmacy or use your bathtub.

When to see a doctor

If you continue to suffer from hemorrhoids after trying these at-home solutions, consult your doctor. They may recommend several medical procedures to help reduce inflammation. These can include:

Rubber band ligation

In this procedure, the doctor places a rubber band around the base of the hemorrhoid to cut off blood flow. The hemorrhoid will wither away and fall off within a week. This treatment is usually only suitable for small to medium-sized hemorrhoids.


This procedure involves injecting a chemical solution into the hemorrhoid, which causes it to shrink. Sclerotherapy is often used for smaller hemorrhoids that bleed but don’t cause much pain.


In severe cases, your doctor may recommend a hemorrhoidectomy. This surgical procedure involves removing the affected hemorrhoidal tissue. Your doctor will either use a local anesthetic (such as injecting a local numbing medicine) or general anesthesia (where you are put to sleep) during this procedure. It is the most effective long-term solution for severe hemorrhoids but may have a longer recovery time and more pain than other treatments.

Final thoughts

Hemorrhoids can be uncomfortable and even painful, but you can take steps to alleviate symptoms at home. However, if your hemorrhoids persist or worsen despite these at-home treatments, consult with your doctor about more invasive procedures.