The painful, swollen areas of tissue and varicose veins in the rectal or anal area are referred to as hemorrhoids. They are known to bleed and itch. Two-thirds of healthy people who go to the doctor for a regular checkup have had hemorrhoids. About 89 percent of Americans can say they have had hemorrhoids at some time over the course of their lives, and if they recur, they worsen over time. To the relief of most, hemorrhoid treatment is not that difficult. A gentle, safe treatment can be discovered for anyone with this ailment.

You might begin to reverse your situation by simply changing your bowel habits. Hemorrhoids are caused by increased pelvic and rectal pressure. Blood can pool in the rectal veins when there is too much pressure or strain. This pooling causes the veins to swell and stretch surrounding tissue. A classic cause of hemorrhoids is rushing a bowel movement by straining. Passing the bowels should be done with a relaxed, natural push, not an exerted strain, which can happen when you have diarrhea or experience constipation. Overstraining is a sure way to develop the hemorrhoids that come from rectal pressure.

Bowel habits are not the only factors that can lead to hemorrhoids. Other things include pregnancy and labor, liver and heart disease that cause the pooling of blood, rare pelvic tumors and being overweight. In each of these cases, the pelvic area can become inflamed and create ripe conditions for blood gathering in your veins.

Fixative procedures, which are nonsurgical, are the most common approach to treating hemorrhoids. The goal is to shrink the hemorrhoid or eliminate it by decreasing the blood supply to it. Doctors who perform rubber band ligation tie off the hemorrhoid with a rubber band. Another treatment, coagulation therapy, creates scar tissue by heating or using lasers or electric current on the hemorrhoid. While these procedures may bring relief, sometimes, they do not manage to stop bleeding. In this case, a surgical procedure called a hemorrhoidectomy may be required. Surgery, of course, has more risks, and it takes longer to recover. It is not an ideal procedure for people over 70 or those who already have poor health conditions.

You can help your recovery from hemorrhoids by doing simple things in your routines to control inflammation, pain or itching. After bowel movements, for example, use baby wipes or slightly wet white toilet paper to blot the anus. You will be tempted to rub the anal area because of excessive itching, but avoid it at all costs. Perfume- or dye-heavy soaps can also irritate the rectal area.

Using an ice pack for 10 minutes at a time several times a day helps, if you use a heat compact for the same amount of time immediately afterwards. Sitz baths are also a popular treatment. This is a bath in which you place just enough water in a tub to cover the anal area and soak for about 15 minutes. Be careful to keep the water at a moderate temperature. If it is too hot, you may burn the sensitive area. You should always pat or blot the anal area and remember to use only cotton underwear during this time. Underwear made of other materials fosters moisture buildup.

Over-the-counter medicines have also proven effective in hemorrhoid treatment. These can come in the form of creams, suppositories, or ointments that have some concentration of hydrocortisone, and anti-itch medicine. Pain relievers and anesthetic creams that numb the anal area have also been effective. You must know which treatment will give you the safest, most effective relief from hemorrhoids. If your home treatments have not started to work after two weeks, it is best to consult a physician.