Some people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may develop hemorrhoids due to impaired bowel movement, straining, or a lack of fiber in the diet. It is often possible to treat hemorrhoids at home, but sometimes it is necessary to seek medical attention from a doctor.
In this article, we discuss IBS and its connection to hemorrhoids. We also explain the treatment options doctors can offer and give tips for preventing hemorrhoids and managing symptoms at home.
Symptoms and causes of IBS
IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder with multiple causes. Doctors don’t fully understand why some people develop IBS, but they believe that certain factors play a role, including:
food intolerances and sensitivities
bacterial infections or overgrowth of bacteria in the intestine
stress, anxiety or depression.
People with IBS may experience the following symptoms:
alteration of intestinal transit
bloating and gas
feeling of not being able to defecate
whitish mucus in the stool.
Doctors generally diagnose IBS as one of three types:
IBS with constipation (IBS-C)
IBS with diarrhea (IBS-D)
irritable bowel syndrome with mixed stools (IBS-M).
However, a doctor can diagnose IBS even if a person’s bowel habits don’t meet the criteria for a particular type.
Hemorrhoids and other IBS complications
Hemorrhoids can develop as a result of IBS symptoms. Hemorrhoids are swollen, inflamed veins that appear outside the anus or inside the anus and lower rectum. According to a 2018 review, doctors believe that constipation and subsequent chronic straining cause hemorrhoids, but there is some evidence that diarrhea may also contribute.
The study authors point to the lack of recent research on hemorrhoids, but state that other suspected risk factors for hemorrhoids include:
sitting on the toilet for long periods of time
poor posture during defecation
having a high body mass index (BMI)
A low-fiber diet and being over the age of 50 are also risk factors for hemorrhoids.
In addition to hemorrhoids, IBS can cause related complications. For example, constipation in IBS can also lead to an anal tear or fissure, and chronic diarrhea can lead to dehydration and nutritional deficiencies. In addition, IBS can affect a person’s quality of life and cause mental health symptoms, such as depression or anxiety.
Medical treatment for hemorrhoids
Doctors treat hemorrhoids in various ways, depending on the individual and the severity of the hemorrhoids. They may prescribe topical creams to apply to hemorrhoids. These creams may contain hydrocortisone, a corticosteroid.
In some cases, options include:
Rubber Band Ligation: In this procedure, a doctor places a surgical rubber band around the base of a hemorrhoid to cut off its blood supply.
Sclerotherapy: A doctor injects a solution into the hemorrhoid, causing it to shrink.
Infrared photocoagulation: Using a specialized tool, the doctor shines infrared light onto the internal hemorrhoid, causing it to form and reduce scar tissue.
Hemorrhoidectomy: After giving the person anesthesia, a surgeon performs this procedure to remove large external hemorrhoids and prolapsed internal hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoid stapling: A doctor or surgeon uses a stapling tool to remove internal hemorrhoidal tissue and return a prolapsed internal hemorrhoid to the anus. This procedure is also performed under anesthesia.
In rare cases, hemorrhoids can cause other problems, such as anemia due to bleeding or a prolapsed hemorrhoid that cuts off blood flow. A doctor will treat these complications accordingly.
Tips to prevent hemorrhoids
People with IBS can take several steps to prevent the occurrence of hemorrhoids. These measures include:
eat plenty of fiber to keep bowel movements regular
drink a lot of water
avoid straining and sitting for long periods during bowel movements
Fiber-rich foods include oatmeal, beans, lentils, and vegetables. Anyone sensitive to these foods should see a dietitian.
In some cases, a person will be able to treat their hemorrhoid symptoms at home with medications and over-the-counter remedies, including the following:
stool softeners or fiber supplements
over-the-counter pain relievers
creams or ointments
a sitz bath
When in doubt, people can seek the advice of their doctor or pharmacist. Also, a person can ease the pain of hemorrhoids by sitting in a lukewarm bath several times a day.
When to contact a doctor
Don’t hesitate to seek immediate medical attention if you are bleeding from your rectum or if symptoms have lasted for more than a week despite using home treatments.
Anyone whose hemorrhoids get worse or affect their quality of life should also see a doctor. The latter can give advice on appropriate alternative treatments. If the person suffers from irritable bowel syndrome, the doctor can also discuss with them the best way to manage this condition.
Hemorrhoids can develop due to certain symptoms of IBS, such as constipation or diarrhea. People can minimize their risk of hemorrhoids by including fiber in their diet and by avoiding straining and sitting on the toilet for too long. It’s often possible to treat hemorrhoids at home with over-the-counter medications and creams, but some people with more severe symptoms may need a doctor or surgeon to treat them.
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