IBS and Hemorrhoids: A Common Complication
Irritable bowel syndrome is a figurative pain in the rear, but it can also cause literal pain in the rear. I am talking about hemorrhoids. Odds are, if you have IBS you have had hemorrhoids. Gather around on your inflatable donuts and let us chat about the troubles we have seen.
The 5th annual IBS in America survey asked 1,930 people about their experience with IBS. The results showed that 9 out of 10 participants reported complications in conjunction with IBS. The most common complaints were hemorrhoids, GERD, and lactose intolerance. Hemorrhoids were the most common complaint. 53 percent of respondents reported having hemorrhoids, while 48 percent reported having GERD and 42 percent reported lactose intolerance.
What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins. While that may not sound so bad, those swollen veins are in your rectum and anus. As they swell, blood vessel walls become thin. This causes them to bulge and become irritated.
Pregnancy is a known cause. Hemorrhoids, sometimes called piles, are also caused by straining during going. If you have IBS, especially IBS-C, you are likely straining while going at times. This can lead to hemorrhoids.
What are the symptoms of hemorrhoids?
Pain is the most common symptom. This can range from mild discomfort to severe pain. You may experience a tearing sensation while going. It can feel like you are being cut or ripping. If you experience it, you will know it. This is a sensation you will definitely notice.
External hemorrhoids can bleed and itch. You may see blood when wiping. You may also see blood in the toilet after going. Hemorrhoids can make it uncomfortable or painful to sit, especially if you have a lot of swelling. Large hemorrhoids can cause a lot of pain.
How are hemorrhoids treated?
While it is advised to adjust fiber intake and diet to better regulate bowel movements, IBS makes this difficult or impossible. If you notice swelling, witch hazel pads and ice packs can reduce the swelling. Over-the-counter medications are available and many are very effective in relieving pain and swelling caused by hemorrhoids.
Cleaning after bowel movements can further irritate the area. Use flushable wipes, a sitz bath, or a bidet if possible to reduce the amount of irritation caused by cleaning. Pat the area dry. Avoid rubbing as much as possible.
When should I see a doctor about my hemorrhoids?
If you are experiencing pain or bleeding for the first time, see a doctor to confirm you have hemorrhoids. You need to rule out other more serious conditions such as fissures and prolapses. Once your doctor has confirmed the presence of hemorrhoids, you will receive recommendations for treatment.
If you experience a lot of bleeding, pain, or swelling, see your doctor right away. You also need to see a doctor if over-the-counter remedies fail to provide relief for more than a week. If you have a lot of bleeding and feel dizzy or faint, seek medical attention immediately. When in doubt, consult a physician. It is best to err on the side of caution.
Living with hemorrhoids
IBS and hemorrhoids often go hand in hand. It is frustrating enough to have a condition that makes you go so often. Then that condition can create a painful condition to make going even worse. Hemorrhoids can range from a minor annoyance to major pain, and the worst flares seem to cause the most trouble.
It is extremely frustrating. However, you can often minimize the impact with proper treatment and careful cleaning. There are also options for eliminating chronic hemorrhoids. Removal is possible and may be necessary in extreme cases. Talk to your doctor about possible treatments.
My personal experience with hemorrhoids
I have had large hemorrhoids that made it difficult to sit. There have been times when going has caused me to clench my fists. I have hit the bathroom wall once or twice due to pain. Maybe it has been more than once or twice. Perhaps it is more like a dozen or so.
At the first sign of a problem, I grab the flushable wipes and witch hazel pads. I am very careful to minimize irritation of the area while cleaning. If the pain becomes too great in the midst of an IBS-C flare, I resort to taking a stool softener. I resort to safe foods to try to tame the flare so I can start healing.
If you are dealing with hemorrhoids for the first time, know that you are not alone. There are many of us suffering through this pain in the rear. If you are an old pro at dealing with hemorrhoids, please share your favorite tips on how to treat and manage pain and swelling.
The 5th IBS In America survey was conducted online from June 8 through August 3, 2020. All of the 1,930 people who completed the survey have been screened to have IBS symptoms.
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