By Bill Hudgins
Special to Land Line
If you’re over 30 and have been driving awhile, chances are you ease into that air-ride seat carefully because you have hemorrhoids. You’re in good company – more than half of us will have them.
The good news is there are several ways to spell relief, including a new procedure called PPH that promises less pain and quicker recovery than traditional surgery.
Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in and around the anus and lower rectum. External hemorrhoids are near the anus and feel like hard, sensitive lumps. They don’t bleed unless the blood vessels rupture. Internal hemorrhoids occur inside and beneath the lining of the anus. They may bleed, protrude during bowel movements and may not retract.
- Anal itching and/or pain;
- Sensitive lump(s) around the anus;
- Bleeding or protrusion during bowel movements.
There’s no single known cause, but a number of factors may contribute to and aggravate them:
- Chronic constipation or diarrhea;
- Overuse of laxatives or enemas;
- Straining during bowel movements;
- Staying on the toilet for a long time;
- Long periods of sitting.
Treatment depends on severity. Warm soaks and more fiber in your diet to ease bowel movements can relieve mild symptoms. In more severe cases, a rubber band may be placed around a protruding hemorrhoid to shut off its blood supply, causing it to shrivel up – but you should not attempt this on your own, seek a physician’s assistance. In severe cases, surgery – a hemorrhoidectomy – may be required.
The new PPH technique – “Procedure for Prolapse and Hemorrhoids” – is done on protruding internal hemorrhoids that don’t go back up into the rectum, said Dr. Mark Zebley, a surgeon in Philadelphia who has performed PPH for about three years. PPH involves repositioning the hemorrhoids back up inside the anus.
“By pulling them back up where they are supposed to be, the blood vessels unkink and the swelling goes away, so the symptoms disappear,” Zebley said.
PPH is done where there are few nerve endings, so there is much less pain than with traditional surgery. The procedure takes about 20 minutes, usually under mild sedation.
Zebley said most people have hemorrhoids to some degree. To minimize their occurrence, people should maintain regular bowel movements and avoid straining. Also, avoid overusing laxatives, be sure to drink plenty of fluids and get some exercise.
Bill Hudgins may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.