Antibiotics basically combat bacterial infections. However, they do not do this without some side effects. A common one is hemorrhoids.
Let’s find out what hemorrhoids are, the common types, how antibiotics play a role in their emergence, and the available treatment options.
What Are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are enlarged veins that can be found in the anus and lower rectum. They often cause pain, anal irritation, and rectal bleeding.
Types Of Hemorrhoids?
There are 4 major types of hemorrhoids:
- Internal Hemorrhoids: Internal hemorrhoids can be found inside the rectum. They rarely cause discomfort and cannot be seen from outside.
- Prolapsed Hemorrhoids: When internal hemorrhoids extend and leave the anus, it becomes prolapsed. In less serious cases, the swollen veins come out during straining and retract upon relaxation. If the swollen veins refuse the retract after relaxation, seek immediate attention.
- External Hemorrhoids: A condition where swollen veins are found around the anus. You can see and touch this type of hemorrhoid.
- Thrombosed Hemorrhoids: When the pooled blood in internal or external hemorrhoids clots, it is called a thrombosed hemorrhoid. They can be very painful in external hemorrhoids.
NB: 3 and 4 usually result from complications of internal or external hemorrhoids.
Can Antibiotics Cause Hemorrhoids?
The body system consists of both good and bad bacteria. When antibiotics fight bacterial infections, they sometimes kill good bacteria in the digestive system.
When these bacteria are affected, conditions such as diarrhea and constipation pop up. The irritation caused by these digestive disorders can result in hemorrhoids or worsen existing ones.
Other Risk Factors For Hemorrhoids
Aside from diarrhea and constipation, other notable causes of hemorrhoids include:
- Being overweight
- Excessive straining during bowel movements
- Irregular bowel movements
- Sedentary lifestyle – when you are mostly sitting
- Pregnancy & childbirth
- Lack of fiber in your diet
- Abuse of laxatives or opium derivatives
- Old age
- Family history
5 Ways You Can Prevent Hemorrhoids
To prevent hemorrhoids in the future, these are 4 practical ways that can help:
- Include more fiber in your diet. Ensure you ingest at least 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day. You can also take fiber supplements like Citrucel if you feel you are not getting enough from food. It softens your stool, which means you do not have to strain while defecating.
- Drink at least eight glasses of water daily. This prevents constipation and the straining that eventually leads to hemorrhoids.
- Exercise your body regularly. Exercising your body will keep your bowels in constant action too.
- Stool when you feel like stooling, don’t hold it in. Holding or delaying your stool can cause constipation. This stool backs up and eventually becomes very difficult to pass out. Then you have to strain and expose yourself to hemorrhoid possibilities.
- Avoid spicy foods that can lead to your poop burning like acid.
Treatment Options for Hemorrhoids
Treatment options for hemorrhoids usually depend on the type, presenting symptoms, and degree of prolapse.
If the symptoms are mild, you may opt for:
- Over-the-counter pain medications such as hemorrhoid creams, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen to reduce swelling and relieve pain.
- A Cold Compress: Applying ice to the swollen area to soothe the pain.
- Warm bath: You may decide to sit in a bathtub filled with water for 10 to 15 minutes.
For serious cases, any of the surgical procedures may be employed:
- Rubber band ligation – a minimally invasive technique that involves tying the base of hemorrhoids with a rubber band to stop blood flow to hemorrhoids.
- Infrared Coagulation – The use of infrared light (as a heat source) to damage the blood supply to internal hemorrhoids. The swollen vessels eventually coagulate and shrink.
- Sclerotherapy – Same as infrared coagulation but this time, chemical solutions such as zinc chloride or quinine are used in cutting off the blood supply to the hemorrhoids.
- Hemorrhoidectomy – surgery to remove internal or external hemorrhoids that are extensive or severe. It is the most effective treatment for hemorrhoids but comes with a high risk of complications.
- Hemorrhoidopexy – A form of hemorrhoidectomy that uses a stapling device to extract hemorrhoidal tissue.
Common Hemorrhoid Complications
- Infection: Bleeding hemorrhoids are very susceptible to bacterial infections. If left untreated, it can result in abscesses, fever and tissue death.
- Anemia: Losing too much blood due to hemorrhoids can result in shortness of breath, dizziness, and fatigue.
- Strangulation: This occurs when the arteries supplying blood to the hemorrhoid are blocked. Strangulation comes with intense and excruciating pain
What can be mistaken for hemorrhoids?
Conditions such anal fissure, anal warts, colorectal cancer, ulcer, inflammatory bowel disease, and Crohn’s disease can be mistaken for hemorrhoids.
These conditions also present symptoms like itching around the anus and can result in rectal bleeding. You need a medical doctor to avoid making such a mistake.
Hemorrhoids, especially the external type may present themselves and heal without any symptoms. However, when they prolapse or form a blood clot (thrombose), they can become very painful and cause discomfort.
Please see a doctor or seek medical attention when pain and discomfort set in. Symptoms like itchy or burning sensations, lumps, and swelling around your anus are key indicators to watch out for.