Although hemorrhoids don’t occur so frequently, they can turn your life into hell when they occur. They will make simple activities, like sitting down and walking very uncomfortable and challenging. The most common question that people with hemorrhoids ask is: How long does it take for hemorrhoids to go away?
In this article, you will learn more about hemorrhoids, how long they last, and what you can do to relieve the discomfort.
What Are Hemorrhoids?
Also referred to as piles, hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lower part of your anus and rectum. If the walls of these veins become strained, they get irritated thereby becoming swollen. You should think of hemorrhoids as varicose veins that affect your anus.
Any kind of straining that puts excess pressure on your belly and lower part of your anus will cause your rectal and anal veins to swell and become inflamed. The main causes of hemorrhoids include pressure on your pelvic due to excess body weight or pregnancy, constipation that causes you to push hard during bowel movement, and straining when lifting heavy weights.
Symptoms of Hemorrhoids
First of all, it is important to understand that internal hemorrhoids hardly cause any pain and can rarely be felt unless they prolapse. Most people with this type of hemorrhoids don’t even know they have them because they don’t show any symptoms. The only possible sign that you might see is blood on your stool, toilet paper, or toilet bowl when you poop.
The blood is a result of rectal bleeding when the inflamed veins get scratched by your stool or overstretched when pushing the stool. However, external hemorrhoids can manifest several symptoms including:
- An itchy anus
- Hard lumps near your anus that feel sore or tender
- Pain or aches in your anus, especially when sitting down or walking
- Rectal bleeding during and after bowel movement
Prolapsed hemorrhoids are very painful and uncomfortable. Sometimes you will feel them bulging outside your anus. When this happens, just push them back inside gently. However, you need to understand that not all of these symptoms are signs of hemorrhoids. Some other gastrointestinal disorders can manifest similar symptoms.
Some of these disorders include colon cancer, Cohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. Unfortunately, some of these gastrointestinal problems are fatal if not treated immediately. Therefore, it is important to see a doctor immediately when you notice any of these symptoms.
How Long Does It Take for Hemorrhoids to Go Away?
How long your hemorrhoids take to clear up depends on several factors. For instance, if your hemorrhoids are small in size, the symptoms may clear up in just a few days. But you will have to make several simple changes in your diet and lifestyle to accelerate healing.
But if your hemorrhoids are so enlarged to a point where they stick out of your anus, they will take longer to clear up, even with dietary and lifestyle changes. In most cases, prolapsed hemorrhoids require treatment from a medical doctor. If you develop hemorrhoids during pregnancy, their symptoms may clear up only after giving birth.
Seeing a doctor is important because it helps to ensure that you have a lower risk of complications, like blood clots or throttled hemorrhoids. With proper home care, ordinary hemorrhoids should clear up within a week.
It is also important to mention that hemorrhoids are not permanent. While some hemorrhoids can be persistent or occur frequently, they should eventually clear up after treatment.
If your hemorrhoids are causing continuous problems, like rectal bleeding and discomfort, you should consider the available treatment options.
Can Hemorrhoids Go Away on Their Own?
Minor hemorrhoids like the internal ones can easily go away on their own when you make certain dietary and lifestyle changes. But some will generally require some type of treatment or home care. Prolapsed hemorrhoids might ease up with certain home care remedies, but it is advisable to seek medical attention if they take more than a week to clear up.
You also need to see a doctor if your hemorrhoids are getting worse or keep coming back. Hemorrhoids caused by pregnancy should easily clear up on their own when you give birth. If the problem seems serious, your doctor may recommend removing the hemorrhoids through surgery.
Risk Factors for Hemorrhoids
Studies have shown that nearly three out of four adults in America get hemorrhoids from time to time. Normally, hemorrhoids occur when the veins around your anus stretch under pressure, causing them to bulge or swell. Other risk factors include:
- Straining during bowel movements
- Sitting for long periods on the toilet
- Having chronic diarrhea or constipation
- Being obese
- Being pregnant
- Having anal intercourse
- Eating a low-fiber diet
- Regular heavy lifting
This problem is more prevalent in older people because the tissues supporting the veins in the rectum and anus become weak and stretch with age. Therefore, as you grow older, you should avoid putting your anus and rectum under a lot of pressure because it puts you at risk of getting hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoid Treatment Options
There are several home treatment methods that you can use to relieve the pain, bulging, and inflammation of your hemorrhoids. They include:
- High-fiber diets: You should always eat foods that are rich in fiber because they will improve your bowel movement and prevent constipation, which is the main cause of hemorrhoids. However, you should slowly increase fiber in your diet to avoid gas problems.
- Topical treatment: There are several over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams and suppositories with hydrocortisone that you can apply on your anus or use a pad with witch hazel or a numbing agent to relieve the discomfort.
- Warm or sitz baths: You can treat hemorrhoids by soaking your anus in plain warm water for about 10 minutes twice or thrice a day. You can also use a sitz bath to treat your hemorrhoids.
- Oral pain relievers: If the pain is unbearable, take effective pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen. But these medicines will only relieve the pain temporarily.
For mild hemorrhoids, your doctor will prescribe for you some over-the-counter creams, ointments, pads, or suppositories. These products are made of pain-relieving ingredients like witch hazel, lidocaine, or hydrocortisone. However, you should not use any over-the-counter steroid cream for over a week unless the doctor advises you to.
For external (prolapsed) hemorrhoids, your doctor will recommend you to get rid of the hemorrhoids, especially if they have painful blood clots (thrombosis). This type of surgery requires local anesthesia and is most effective when performed within three days of developing a blood clot.
Minimally Invasive Treatment Procedures
If your hemorrhoids are persistent and painful, your doctor might advise you to undergo the other minimally invasive treatment procedures like rubber band ligation, injection, and coagulation (infrared, laser, or bipolar).
When performing rubber band ligation, the doctor will place one or two small rubber bands around your internal hemorrhoids to cut off their circulation. Eventually, the hemorrhoids will wither. However, this treatment method can be uncomfortable and cause rectal bleeding.
The injection (sclerotherapy) procedure involves the injection of chemical solutions into your hemorrhoid tissue to shrink it. However, this option is not as effective as rubber band ligation.
The coagulation technique, which can either use laser, infrared, or heat techniques, can cause your internal hemorrhoids to harden and shrivel. Coagulation has very few side effects and doesn’t cause discomfort.
If your hemorrhoids are stubborn and extremely painful, your doctor will recommend one of the two main surgical procedures: hemorrhoid removal (hemorrhoidectomy) and hemorrhoid stapling.
Through hemorrhoidectomy, your doctor will remove the excess tissue causing bleeding around your anus. Hemorrhoid stapling, on the other hand, is recommended for internal hemorrhoids, and it involves stopping blood flow to the hemorrhoid tissue.
Will Your Hemorrhoids Return?
It is possible to have recurring hemorrhoids, depending on your lifestyle and diet. As mentioned above, hemorrhoids are main caused by increased pressure around your anus. Therefore, if your lifestyle and work routine include lifting heavy items and exercising, your hemorrhoids are likely to keep recurring. They will also keep coming back if your diet doesn’t have enough fiber to prevent constipation.
Tips on How to Prevent Hemorrhoids
Since hemorrhoids are mainly caused by excess pressure on your anus and rectum, there are several ways to prevent this from happening.
1. Eat Proper Diet
You can easily prevent hemorrhoids by eating the right foods. For instance, you should increase your intake of dietary fiber to promote healthy and consistent bowel movements without constipation.
2. Maintain Healthy Weight
People with excess body weight tend to suffer from recurring hemorrhoids because there is excess pressure on the veins around their anus, causing swelling and irritation. Therefore, you should maintain a healthy body weight to prevent hemorrhoids.
3. Avoid Excessive Straining
Avoid lifting weights incorrectly or very heavy weights, or sitting or pushing too hard while having a bowel movement. The increased pressure on your rectum and anus will cause hemorrhoids.