Haemorrhoids are inflamed or swollen veins in the lower rectum and anus. According to the Mayo Clinic, haemorrhoids are extremely common, affecting about half of adults by age 50. There are many available treatments that are low-cost and over-the-counter. There are also some lifestyle changes that can help treat and prevent haemorrhoids.
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Straining, sitting on the toilet for long periods of time, obesity, ongoing diarrhoea or constipation, pregnancy and anal intercourse can cause haemorrhoids. Anything that irritates the veins of the anus or rectum can cause haemorrhoids. Weakening veins is a natural part of the ageing process. This is why haemorrhoids are more common in older people, according to the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons
Many topical creams are available over-the-counter for haemorrhoid treatment. The active ingredient in most of these creams is phenylephrine, a drug that causes blood vessels to constrict, reducing the inflammation of haemorrhoids, according to the website Hemorrhoid Cream. Some haemorrhoid creams also contain hydrocortisone, another type of anti-inflammatory drug that can also help reduce itching. Over-the-counter creams vary in cost, but most are under ten dollars.
Minimally invasive procedures
According to the Mayo Clinic, procedures such as rubber band ligation, injection with tissue-shrinking medications and laser therapies to treat internal haemorrhoids can cure the condition entirely for many patients. These treatments can be administered on an outpatient basis. These procedures are usually covered by insurance but can cost from £325 to £975 (%500 to $1500) for the uninsured patient, according to the website Cost Helper.
Surgery is the most expensive haemorrhoid treatment method and, according to Cost Helper, can cost up to £7,800 ($12,000). Surgery is typically only recommended when all other treatments have failed. According to Surgical Associates at Virginia Hospital, haemorrhoid surgeries include hemorrhoidectomy, surgical removal of the haemorrhoids; and stapling, the pinching off of the haemorrhoid's blood flow.
Eating more fibre can help regulate bowel movements, reducing stress and strain on the veins in the anus and rectum, according to the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. Eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking eight glasses of water a day can also help to regulate digestion. These are low-cost measures that can prevent haemorrhoids and the potentially high-cost medications and surgeries they may necessitate.
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