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What are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are swollen but normally present blood vessels in and around the anus and lower rectum that stretch under pressure. Hemorrhoids are very similar to varicose veins in the legs. The increased pressure and swelling may result from straining to move the bowel. Factors contributing to hemorrhoids are: pregnancy, heredity, aging, and chronic constipation or diarrhea.

Hemorrhoids may occur inside the anus (internal) or under the skin around the anus (external). An internal hemorrhoid may protrude through the anus outside the body. This is called a protruding hemorrhoid.

Symptoms of Hemorrhoids

There are many symptoms and everyone with hemorrhoids will not experience all of the symptoms.

Some of the symptoms of hemorrhoids are:

  • bright red blood covering the stool
  • painful swelling around the anus
  • a hard lump around the anus
  • anal fissures
  • anal fistulae
  • anal abscesses
  • anal irritation and itching

Excessive straining, rubbing or cleaning the anus may worsen symptoms.

What Causes Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are caused by too much pressure in the rectum, forcing blood to stretch and bulge the walls of the veins. Sometimes the pressure ruptures the veins.

Are Hemorrhoids Dangerous?

No. Hemorrhoids usually are not dangerous or life threatening. In most cases, the symptoms of hemorrhoids will only last a few days. Not every one with hemorrhoids will experience symptoms.

Are Hemorrhoids Common?

Hemorrhoids are very common . Hemorrhoids affect both men and women. About half of the population will have hemorrhoids by age 50. Hemorrhoids are also common among pregnant women. Hemorrhoids are common among pregnant women because the pressure of the fetus in the abdomen, as well as hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, cause the hemorrhoidal vessels to enlarge. These vessels are also placed under severe pressure during childbirth. For most women, hemorrhoids caused by pregnancy are a temporary problem and given the right care will go away.

How Are Hemorrhoids Diagnosed?

Hemorrhoids are diagnosed by a doctor. The doctor will examine the anus, and rectum and look for swollen blood vessels. A digital rectal exam will also be performed. The doctor may also examine the patient with an anoscope, or a proctoscope. An anoscope is a lighted tube useful for viewing internal hemorrhoids. A proctoscope, is used to examine the entire rectum.

Can Hemorrhoids be Treated?

Yes hemorrhoids can be treated. Medical treatment of hemorrhoids initially is aimed at relieving symptoms. Symptoms can be reduced by: sitting in a a warm tub, Ice packs (to help reduce swelling), usage of a hemorrhoidal cream. Increasing fiber and fluids in the diet will also help (makes softer stool).

In some cases, hemorrhoids must be treated surgically. The doctor will shrink and destroy the hemorrhoidal tissue.

Can Hemorrhoids Prevented?

Yes hemorrhoids can be prevented. The best way to prevent hemorrhoids is to keep stools soft so they pass easily, with little straining.

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