Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 19th 2013 Contents A36
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, October 19, 2013
The number of Americans search-
ing online for information on haem-
orrhoids and how to treat them
seems to have skyrocketed since
Data gathered from Google searches
show that interest in the term "haem-
orrhoids" more than doubled between
2008 and 2013, according to a Live-
Science analysis using Google Trends,
a tool that shows how often a par-
ticular search term is entered in the
search engine, relative to the total
search volume in a specific country.
The term "haemorrhoids" was
searched about 40,000 times weekly
between 2004 and 2008, but this
number started to rise during mid-
2008, crept up to about 80,000
weekly searches in 2010, and reached
nearly 120,000 during some weeks
But what does the trend mean?
"My first guess would be that peo-
ple are becoming more comfortable
with the Internet, and they are going
to look up more and more things,
and haemorrhoids are a common
condition," said Dr Jesse Moore, an
assistant professor of surgery at Uni-
versity of Vermont College of Med-
icine, and attending surgeon at
Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burling-
In fact, one in three American
adults have reported going online to
try to figure out what medical con-
dition they or someone else might
have, according to a national survey
conducted earlier this year by Pew
It seems possible that conditions
such as haemorrhoids might be
among the most searched-for online
because people may be embarrassed
to talk about them with a doctor. But
perhaps they shouldn t be: Techni-
cally, everybody has haemorrhoids.
What are haemorrhoids?
"One of the misconceptions about
haemorrhoids is that nobody has it
but me. Actually, everybody has
haemorrhoids, but not everybody has
symptoms of haemorrhoids," Moore
Haemorrhoids are normal parts of
the human anatomy, and they serve
a purpose. These little blood vessels
act like water balloons inside the
lower rectum, and help people control
But sometimes, haemorrhoids can
become swollen or inflamed, causing
symptoms such as bleeding or pain.
"I see a lot of people in my office
with complaints of haemorrhoids.
Only about half of the time is it actu-
ally that they have haemorrhoids that
are symptomatic," Moore said.
Because other conditions can cause
the same symptoms, many people
mistakenly think they have haemor-
The most common condition that
people mistake for haemorrhoids are
fissures, Moore said. Both can cause
Fissures, which are tears in the skin
of the lower rectum, are usually treat-
ed with topical medication applied
to the surface of the fissure. However,
some patients need surgery, he said.
Dr Jeffrey S Aronoff, a colorectal
surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital in
New York, said he suspects people
may be increasing searching for
haemorrhoid information because
advertisements about haemorrhoid
treatment services are becoming more
"It s important that people be
aware where they educate themselves
about medical issues," because some
health Web sites have inaccurate
information," Aronoff said.
The best way to avoid getting
symptomatic haemorrhoids or fis-
sures is to avoid constipation and
prolonged straining on the toilet.
People should eat a high-fibre diet,
consuming about 30 grammes of
fibre, as well as drinking about 2 litres
of water a day, Moore said.
Fruits such as apples and pears
(with skin) have about 4 to 5 grammes
of fibre. A bowl of a high-fibre cereal
might have up to 8 grammes, and a
cup of cooked peas, lentils or beans
has up to 15 grammes of fibre.
But there are certain foods that are
constipating and should be avoided
if people start having problems
(bananas, for example).
When too much pressure is posi-
tioned on the blood vessels in the
rectal area, haemorrhoids may bulge
or become swollen.
Pregnancy, heavy lifting, and long
hours of sitting can increase blood
flow into the haemorrhoids and result
in their engorgement, increasing the
risk of developing symptomatic
haemorrhoids, Aronoff said.
How can haemorrhoids be treated
Haemorrhoids come in two types;
there s internal and there s external
haemorrhoids, Moore said.
Internal haemorrhoids cause pain-
less bleeding. One treatment option
for internal haemorrhoids is to use
what is called "rubberbanding," which
is strangling the haemorrhoid by tying
a rubber band at its base, cutting off
the blood flow to the hemor-
rhoid. This is an outpatient pro-
cedure that a doctor performs in
External haemorrhoids happen
when haemorrhoids become irri-
tated, and blood clots form under
the skin. This is called a throm-
bosed, or clotted, haemorrhoid,
and is painful and can bleed. The
usual treatment for external
haemorrhoids is to excise them.
"Over-the-counter stuff that
people see advertised for haem-
orrhoids have never been shown
in any good scientific study to
help haemorrhoids," he said.
Generally, if people see blood
in the stool, it s important to see
a doctor, especially if they are
over 40 years old. A doctor could
help make sure the blood is from
a haemorrhoid or a fissure, and
not from a tumour in the colon,
Also, when people experience
discomfort in their rectal area,
which could be caused by symp-
tomatic haemorrhoids, fissures,
warts or other conditions, it s a
good idea to see a doctor who
can help diagnose the problem.
"A lot of times it s not actually
haemorrhoids, and would
respond to different treatments,"
Moore said. (LiveScience.com)
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and advice
How to manage your haemorrhoids
"Haemorrhoids are normal parts of the human
anatomy, and they serve a purpose. These
little blood vessels act like water balloons
inside the lower rectum, and help people
control bowel movements."
External haemorrhoids happen when haemorrhoids become irritated,
and blood clots form under the skin.
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