What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids—also known as piles— are swollen veins located in the lower rectum and anus. These veins swell due to pressure, which causes them to become irritated and stretched during a bowel movement.
Multiple sources conclude that about 50 percent of adults experience hemorrhoids symptoms by age 50, that the condition is common among those between ages 45 and 65, and more common in men than women. In addition, women are more likely to experience hemorrhoids during pregnancy.* It should be noted, however, that anyone can develop hemorrhoids, including children and adults in optimal health.
Hemorrhoids are referred to by location: internal and external. Internal hemorrhoids are usually painless, as they are located deeply enough in the rectum where there are fewer pain-sensitive nerves. As a result, they cannot be seen or felt, (though they may (slip down and protrude outside the anus). Otherwise, they are apparent only with bleeding during a bowel movement.
External hemorrhoids visibly surround the anus and can be felt as lumps. If they swell significantly, they can lead to thrombosis (clotting of blood), which make symptoms worse, particularly the pain.
What causes hemorrhoids?
The cause of hemorrhoids is primarily increased pressure in the lower abdomen. This can be the result of the following:
- Straining during bowel movements
- Sitting or standing for long periods of time
- Holding breath during physical exertion
- Chronic constipation or acute and chronic diarrhea
- Low-fiber diet
- Anal intercourse
- Coughing, sneezing or vomiting
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of hemorrhoids may include:
- Swelling in the anus area
- Lump(s) located in the area of the anus that may be painful or itchy
- Pain or itching during bowel movements
- Bright red blood with bowel movements
- Fecal leakage
How are hemorrhoids treated?
There are many ways to effectively treat hemorrhoids. Medications for mild cases of hemorrhoids include over-the-counter creams or suppositories to relieve pain and itching, as well as laxatives when indicated. However, patients should consult a physician for any extended use of these products.
In addition, there are preventive lifestyle measures patients can take, including a diet with sufficient fiber, drinking plenty of water and getting exercise.
At Digestive Healthcare Center (DHC), our physicians specialize in various treatment techniques for managing hemorrhoids, including a non-surgical technique known as hemorrhoidal banding. This procedure ties off the hemorrhoids to cut off the blood flow painlessly.
*Medical News Today http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/73938.php