Some people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may develop hemorrhoids due to impaired bowel movement, straining to pass stools, or 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 certain factors play a role, including:
food intolerances and sensitivities
bacterial infections or overgrowth of bacteria in the gut
stress, anxiety or depression.
People with IBS may experience the following symptoms:
impaired intestinal transit
bloating and gas
feeling of not being able to have a bowel movement
whitish mucus in the stool.
Doctors usually 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 do not meet the criteria for a particular type.
Hemorrhoids and other complications of IBS
Hemorrhoids can develop as a result of IBS symptoms. Hemorrhoids are swollen, inflamed veins that appear either outside the anus or inside the anus and lower rectum. According to a 2018 review, doctors believe constipation and consequent chronic straining cause hemorrhoids, but there is some evidence that diarrhea can also contribute.
The study authors note 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
have a high body mass index (BMI)
A low-fiber diet and being over 50 are also risk factors for hemorrhoids.
Besides hemorrhoids, IBS can lead to 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. Also, 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 several ways, depending on the individual and the severity of the hemorrhoids. They may prescribe topical creams to apply to the 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 on the internal hemorrhoid, causing scar tissue to form and shrink.
Hemorrhoidectomy: After giving the person anesthesia, a surgeon performs this procedure to remove large external hemorrhoids and prolapsed internal hemorrhoids.
Stapling of hemorrhoids: A doctor or surgeon uses a stapling tool to remove internal hemorrhoidal tissue and bring a prolapsed internal hemorrhoid back into the anus. This procedure also takes place under anesthesia.
Complications of hemorrhoids
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 onset of hemorrhoids. These measures include:
eat plenty of fiber to keep bowel movements regular
to drink a lot of water
avoid straining and sitting for long periods during bowel movements
Foods high in fiber are oats, beans, lentils and vegetables. Anyone sensitive to these foods should consult a dietitian.
In some cases, a person will be able to treat their hemorrhoid symptoms at home with over-the-counter medications and remedies, including the following:
stool softeners or fiber supplements
over-the-counter pain relievers
creams or ointments
a sitz bath
If in doubt, people can seek advice from their doctor or pharmacist. Additionally, a person may find relief from hemorrhoid pain by sitting in a warm water bath several times a day.
When to contact a doctor
Do not hesitate to seek immediate medical attention if you are bleeding from the 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 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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