A: If you have pain, itching, a dull achy feeling in the rectal area or blood in your stools you may have hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids are a common problem that about half of the population will experience at some time in their life. Problems with constipation, diarrhea, being pregnant or obese can all increase the risk of getting hemorrhoids.
Once you have been diagnosed with hemorrhoids by a physician, most of the time treatment at home is sufficient to minimize the symptoms. There are many over-the-counter products that can be used. It is best to look for a product that contains one or more of the following: vasoconstrictor (phenylephrine), protectant (mineral oil, cocoa butter) or anesthetic (pramoxine). The medications come in cream, ointment and suppository form. For the best results, make sure to cleanse the rectal area with soap and water before using any product. These products may be used for up to seven days at a time. If no improvement is seen after this time, make sure to check with your doctor. To prevent hemorrhoids or to keep them from becoming worse, try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eat a fiber-rich diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Also, drink plenty of water and exercise regularly. Make sure to ask your pharmacist if you need help choosing the correct product for your hemorrhoids.
Answer provided by Hy-Vee Drugstore, 1541 S.E. Third St., Suite 100, 986-4527.