Studies suggest that an estimated more than 50% of Americans will develop a hemorrhoid condition by the age of 50- yet, only a small percentage of people seek treatment until it is impossible to ignore. While not a replacement for professional treatment, conservative treatments are available that can manage the symptoms and prevent recurrence.
For grade I internal and nonthrombosed external hemorrhoids, warm baths, a high-fiber diet, high fluid intake, stool softeners, topical analgesics, topical steroids, and proper hygiene can improve hemorrhoids. Warm baths increases blood flow and relaxes the sphincter, easing perianal pain caused by a hemorrhoid. Ice can be used in cases of acute thrombosis. The key to conservative management of hemorrhoids is reducing constipation and hard stool. This, in turn, reduces pressure in the lower rectum. Increasing dietary fiber increases fluid retained in the stool, which, combined with increased water intake, can greatly relieve pressure on hemorrhoids. Good sources of fiber include beans, fruit, veggies, and whole grains. Fiber supplements, such as psyllium husk powder, are effective and can make fiber intake more convenient. Another important consideration is time spent on the toilet- with so many ways to distractions available it is easy to linger in the bathroom, but one should only stay on the toilet long enough to evacuate the bowels.
Topical agents are available, but only a few are marginally effective. Topical hydrocortisone can relieve the rectal irritation and itching and decrease internal hemorrhoidal bleeding. However, it should not be used longer than two weeks due to mucosal atrophy.
Hemorrhoids can be a hassle, but luckily there are ways to manage it independently. Conservative treatment aims to reduce constipation and stool hardness, by adjusting diet or through supplements, reduce strain by changing toilet habits, and medicate in some circumstances with topical medication. However, if bleeding is persistent or if pain is present or if the irritation with itching affects your quality of life, it is best to see a medical professional.