The anus is the exit sphincter of the digestive tract. It is made up of two circular muscles (the anal sphincters), one autonomous and the other voluntary, which controls bowel movements.
Inside and through the muscles is a network of veins, the hemorrhoidal plexus.
These veins can dilate if there is an increase in abdominal pressure or if feces accumulate in the rectum (constipation). If this increase in pressure is temporary, the veins will return to their original shape once the cause has been resolved. However, if the increase in pressure is repeated and frequent, or prolonged, venaprobuy net the veins end up dilating and deforming, projecting into the anal canal, giving rise to hemorrhoids.
While their size is small they can go unnoticed, without significant symptoms. However, as they increase in size their presence and effects are increasingly noticeable.
The main symptoms they can produce are:
Bleeding: in the form of red blood, usually in small amounts staining the stool or toilet paper.
Pain: especially during anal dilatation for the passing of the stool. This pain can be sharp and intense during defecation or sordid, deep and continuous.
Venous prolapse: the dilated veins “come out” through the anus, being visible. It is not essential for the hemorrhoids to be visible for the rest of the symptoms to occur.
Continuous, very violent pruritus (itching).
Rectal tenderness: the permanent sensation of needing to defecate.
The symptoms associated with hemorrhoids make the evacuation of feces (bowel movement) particularly uncomfortable, so we try to avoid them. This favors constipation, which is the main factor causing hemorrhoids, thus closing a vicious circle that increasingly complicates the picture. Hence the importance of trying to avoid constipation during pregnancy in order to reduce the appearance of hemorrhoids or limit their severity.
In pregnancy, especially in the final months, the continuous pressure of the dilated uterus on the rectum and anus contributes to increasing the pressure and, consequently, the development of hemorrhoids.
In childbirth, expulsion efforts (pushing) represent episodes of a very important increase in abdominal pressure that make the hemorrhoids dilate very significantly and are very evident.
In cases with mild symptoms:
Increase of fiber in the diet (legumes, cereals, nuts, fruits, and vegetables), always associated with an increase in the number of liquids, to obtain a soft stool that does not irritate the anal mucosa.
In some cases, fiber supplements may be indicated.
In initial phases of treatment, the use of a laxative may be associated (taking care not to produce diarrhea that may worsen the symptoms).
Avoid caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and spicy foods.
Spending long periods of time in the toilet to defecate also favors the congestion of hemorrhoids and their subsequent bleeding, which should be avoided.
Warm water sitz baths lasting a few minutes can also be beneficial.
The use of anti-haemorrhoidal creams or ointments may be initially indicated, although it must be taken into account that many of them have compounds (corticoids, topical anesthetics,…) that can cause side effects, so they should only be used for a few days and always under the supervision of a doctor.
There are also medicines that can improve the microcirculation of the area and reduce inflammation, and they can be useful.
If you are not sure, you can consult the new Gastronomic Dictionary (you have it in paper and online), to find the answer. I attended the presentation last week in Platea, at 5 Goya Street in Madrid (with Rafael Ansón presiding over the event, as president of the Ibero-American Association of Gastronomy – AIBG, and of the Royal Academy of Gastronomy – RAG), and as soon as I opened the book, I started looking for unknown terms. I found a lot, which put me in my place because I saw that I still have the strip to learn!
Returning to the subject of figs, the dictionary explains, for example, that “figs are the first fruit that the fig tree produces in spring”; that their taste “is more delicate and less sweet than that of figs”; that they “have laxative and digestive properties”, and that they “combine very well with salty, smoky, cheese, anchovy and sausage flavors”. I look up the entry for fig in the dictionary and read that “there are many varieties: fig molar, zafarí. doñigal, etc”. And he adds specifically: “Not to be confused with breva”. However, it does not say that figs are usually in season at the end of the summer, hence the phrase ‘from figs to brevas’, in other words, very rarely).
With imagination on my palate, I decided to buy some brevas to eat that day. Luckily, I found them at Platea’s own fruit shop (5 euros for half a kilo, a high price, but one that would provide me with 2 or 3 meals). When I got home, I prepared some brevas with a salad of three kinds of cheese, smoked salmon and a honey vinaigrette. Although it sounds complicated, it took me less than 15 minutes to make it. I washed and dried 2 leaves of oak lettuce, 4 cherry tomatoes, and 2 brevas. I crushed 1 tablespoon of cream cheese with another of goat cheese curl, half of the blue cheese, 1 dash of milk, salt and black pepper. I reserved that cream and made a vinaigrette with AOVE, apple vinegar, orange honey, salt, and pepper. I surrounded a plain dish with lettuce and cherry tomatoes. In the middle, I put the brevas in slices. I distributed the cream cheese and 40 gr. of chopped smoked salmon on top and seasoned everything with the vinaigrette with honey. It was a religious experience, but without sin, because I calculated that my dish would not reach 300 calories. And do you know how many have 100 grams of brevas? About 65. With about 75 calories, figs are not much better than them… and they’re also very high in fiber, which means they’re super-satiating.
Clarity against fakenews
With more than 7,000 terms (products, techniques, utensils and even business models), the new Gastronomy Dictionary has the support of the Ministries of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food and of Culture and Sport and of major references in the sector, such as Linkers, Makro and Hosteleo. Developed by LID-AIBG editorial, with contributions from 50 experts, the authors declare that “the project aims to ensure that the sector is not dominated by fake news, which only seek to generate traffic”. Well, we wish you all success, because we are in that very same fakenews!