Everyone has hemorrhoids. Not everyone will develop symptoms from enlarged hemorrhoids, but it is an extremely common medical condition. An estimated 80 percent of all people will suffer from the symptoms of enlarged hemorrhoids at some point in their lives.
Small hemorrhoids, a natural part of the human body, are blood vessel complexes in and around the anal rectal area. There are two types of hemorrhoids — external hemorrhoids covered in skin and are visible at the anal opening and internal hemorrhoids located just inside the lower rectum.
When hemorrhoids become enlarged they can result in very bothersome symptoms. External symptoms consist of itching, burning, discomfort/pain and a swelling around the anal opening. Internal symptoms can be a vague pressure as well as a protrusion of tissue through the anal opening during bowel movements (BMs). There is sometimes bleeding as well as difficulty staying clean after a bowel movement.
Common risk factors for developing enlarged hemorrhoids are prolonged sitting or standing, heavy lifting, straining during BMs, being overweight and pregnancy/delivery. However, many people develop symptoms without any known risk factors.
Hemorrhoidal symptoms can be embarrassing, making it difficult for people to seek treatment. There is a perception that all hemorrhoid treatments are painful, require missing work or activities and have the possibility of severe complications. These misperceptions keep people from seeking an evaluation until the hemorrhoids are significantly enlarged and more difficult to treat with non-invasive procedures.
Betsy Clemens, MD, a board-certified physician at the Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center says it is important to seek a proper diagnosis and discuss treatment options early. Before she began specializing in anal rectal disorders, Dr. Clemens was a primary care physician for more than a decade. She has a comprehensive understanding of the body and uses a systemic approach to the diagnostic and treatment process.
Finding the right physician increases the odds that a minimally invasive treatment such as infrared coagulation (IRC) will be successful. During IRC, a device targets infrared light on the enlarged hemorrhoidal tissue which causes the vessels to shrink and retract. This relatively painless, non-surgical treatment takes three to six sessions, each lasting 45-60 seconds, over six-to-eight weeks. There is no downtime and the patient resumes their normal activities. An expert at IRC, Dr. Clemens has performed more than 28,000 individual IRC procedures throughout her career.
Dr. Clemens emphasizes the importance of a timely evaluation. Many hemorrhoid flare-ups can be prevented by a change in lifestyle habits, therefore eliminating the need for a procedure.
Lifestyle changes include eating a high-fiber diet, drinking plenty of water and taking appropriate supplements if needed to maintain soft bowel movements; staying physically active; being smart about heavy lifting and the appropriate use of topical hemorrhoid medications. She states, “I love when a patient gets relief with simple changes, and patients appreciate that I don’t push them to have multiple procedures.”
Dr. Clemens consults with patients on available procedures. She explains, “I educate the person about what I feel is the most appropriate procedure for their particular situation. If I do not think that is IRC, I refer them to who I think is the most competent physician for them. Even though I am an independent physician, I have a great working relationship with many of the surgeons and gastroenterologists around the area.”
She continues, “IRC is the least-invasive procedure available. Patients have excellent results and are very happy with the entire process at Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center. I have a great staff who specialize in making patients feel comfortable from the time they place the initial phone call until their last appointment.”
If you suspect that you have hemorrhoids, Dr. Clemens says it’s important to remember that you are not alone. “Many people have symptoms. Do not be scared to come in. Hemorrhoids don’t always require surgery, and treatment does not have to be horrible,” she says.
Not every symptom equates to enlarged hemorrhoids. But if it is, Dr. Clemens and the staff at Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center are ready to help you stop suffering in silence.
To learn more about treatment options at Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center, contact 314-991-9888 or www.mwhtc-stl.com.