Hemorrhoids are painful, swollen veins in the lower portion of the rectum or anus.
Hemorrhoids are very common, especially during pregnancy and after childbirth. They result from increased pressure in the veins of the anus. The pressure causes the veins to swell, making them painful, particularly when you are sitting.
The most common cause is straining during bowel movements.
Hemorrhoids may be caused by:• Straining during bowel movements
• Sitting for long periods of time
• Anal infections
• Certain diseases, such as liver cirrhosis
Hemorrhoids may be inside or outside the body.• Internal hemorrhoids occur just inside the anus, at the beginning of the rectum.
• External hemorrhoids occur at the anal opening and may hang outside the anus.
Symptoms of hemorrhoids include:• Anal itching
• Anal ache or pain, especially while sitting
• Bright red blood on toilet tissue, stool, or in the toilet bowl
• Pain during bowel movements
• One or more hard tender lumps near the anus
Exams and Tests
A doctor can often diagnose hemorrhoids simply by examining the rectal area. If necessary, tests that may help diagnose the problem include:• Stool guaiac (shows the presence of blood)
Surgery that may be done to treat hemorrhoids includes rubber band ligation or surgical hemorrhoidectomy. These procedures are generally used for patients with severe pain or bleeding who have not responded to other therapy.
The blood in the swollen vein may form clots, and the surrounding tissue can die. Surgery is often needed to remove hemorrhoids with clots.
Severe bleeding may also occur. Iron deficiency anemia can result from long-term blood loss. Significant bleeding from hemorrhoids is unusual, however.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call for your health care provider if hemorrhoid symptoms do not improve with home treatment. You should also be seen if you have rectal bleeding. Your provider may want to check for other, more serious causes of the bleeding.
Constipation and straining during bowel movements raise your risk for hemorrhoids. To prevent constipation and hemorrhoids, you should:• Drink plenty of fluids, at least eight glasses per day.
• Eat a high-fiber diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
• Consider fiber supplements.
• Use stool softeners to prevent straining.