No one should have to put up with discomfort from hemorrhoids. These days a variety of treatments can relieve or eliminate symptoms, but unfortunately many people are too embarrassed to seek medical care. Priti Bijpuria, MD, a gastroenterologist at our Columbia, MD office, says although hemorrhoids can be a sensitive issue, it is not an uncommon one. In fact, 75% of people will have symptoms in their lifetime. Occurring most commonly in people over 45, some risk factors such as pregnancy and chronic constipation can put younger age groups at risk. The most common symptoms include anal itching or burning, rectal bleeding (more serious causes need to be ruled out) and a feeling of fullness in the rectum, and prolapse of hemorrhoid tissue through the anus.
Dr. Bijpuria first approaches hemorrhoid treatment with a regimen that includes increasing water and fiber intake to 25 grams per day. She also counsels her patients on behavioral changes, such as avoiding straining during bowel movements. “If conservative treatment does not work we offer hemorrhoid band ligation - an in-office procedure that can treat and even eradicate hemorrhoid symptoms,” says Dr. Bijpuria. Hemorrhoid banding involves placing a small band using gentle suction at the base of the hemorrhoid. The banded tissue typically falls off in a few days.
Dr. Bijpuria says the effect of the procedure can be highly effective and long-lasting. “The reoccurrence rate of symptoms after hemorrhoid band treatment is only 5% at two years. No sedation or bowel preparation is required,” she says. Afterward patients can drive and return to their normal daily activities.
The bottom line is that the discomfort caused by hemorrhoids should not be a permanent part of your life. A range of treatment is available depending on the severity of the symptoms. If hemorrhoids are an ongoing problem for you, seek a physician specializing in digestive disorders. It’s essential to get a complete evaluation and a proper diagnosis from a doctor.