Hemorrhoids: What You Need to Know

Hemorrhoids are swollen and inflamed veins that appear on the anus and lower rectum. They are also known as piles. Hemorrhoids often occur when a person strains during bowel movements or is constipated, or when women experiences increased pressure on the veins during pregnancy. Hemorrhoids can be internal or external. They may appear inside the rectum (internal) or under the skin around the anus (external). Both types of hemorrhoids can cause anal pain, bleeding, itching, or a hard lump near the anus.


Hemorrhoids are actually quite common. There are millions of cases of hemorrhoids in the United States every year. They are most common among people over the age of 50. By this age, about half of adults experience symptoms of hemorrhoids such as itching, bleeding, and discomfort which often indicates they are present. With the proper treatment, most hemorrhoid symptoms clear up within a few days.

The signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids depends on where they occur. Because internal hemorrhoids lie inside the rectum, you usually won’t feel or see these types of hemorrhoids. External hemorrhoids occur under the skin around the anus and with these types of hemorrhoids a person is much more likely to experience discomfort from symptoms. When external hemorrhoids become irritated either by straining or when passing a stool, they can bleed and itch. In some cases, a blood clot can form as a result of blood building up around the external hemorrhoids which can cause inflammation, swelling, and pain.

Signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids may include painless bleeding during bowel movements, itching or irritation in your anal region, pain or discomfort, swelling around your anus, a lump near your anus which may be sensitive or painful, or leakage of feces.

Hemorrhoids can be treated either with medications, minimally invasive procedures, or surgery. Your doctor may recommend medications if your hemorrhoids are only causing mild discomfort. Medications may include over-the-counter ointments, creams, or suppositories. Minimally invasive procedures are recommended when the hemorrhoids have cause blood clots to form. The type of procedure that may be performed includes a rubber band ligation, a sclerotherapy injection, or an infrared, laser, or bipolar coagulation. When either medication or minimally invasive procedures have been unsuccessful in treating the hemorrhoids, your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgery may include a hemorrhoidectomy which is the removal of the hemorrhoid, or a procedure called a stapled hemorrhoidectomy or stapled hemorrhoidopexy which blocks blood flow to the hemorrhoidal tissue.

How to prevent hemorrhoids:

·         Keep stool soft

o   Eat foods high in fiber

o   Drink lots of water

o   Consider fiber supplements

·         Try not to strain when trying to pass stool

·         Use the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge to go

·         Get physical exercise

·         Try not to sit for long periods of time