Hemorrhoids have become a common medical condition that is affecting millions of people worldwide. They can cause pain, discomfort, and irritation, impacting daily life.
Understanding the symptoms, causes, and prevention strategies for hemorrhoids is crucial for managing and alleviating this condition.
In this blog, we will shed light on what hemorrhoids are, why they occur, and how to prevent them. So, without further ado, let’s get started!
What are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids, commonly known as piles, are swollen and inflamed veins located in the rectum or anus. They can occur when the blood vessels in the rectal area become enlarged or engorged. There are two kinds of hemorrhoids:
- Internal Hemorrhoids
These are hemorrhoids that form inside the rectum. They can cause bleeding during bowel movements and may protrude or prolapse through the anus, leading to discomfort or pain.
- External Hemorrhoids
These are hemorrhoids that develop under the skin around the anus. They are often more painful and uncomfortable than internal hemorrhoids. Irritation, pain, and swelling are the most common causes of hemorrhoids.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids can manifest with various symptoms, and their severity can vary from person to person. Some common signs and discomforts associated with hemorrhoids include:
One of the hallmark symptoms of hemmorhoids is rectal bleeding. This bleeding is often painless and typically occurs during bowel movements.
It may manifest as bright red blood on toilet paper, in the toilet bowl, or on the surface of stools.
While rectal bleeding is a common symptom, it’s essential to rule out other potential causes, such as gastrointestinal issues, and consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis.
Itching and irritation
They can cause itching and irritation in the anal area. This discomfort can be bothersome and may lead to a persistent urge to scratch the affected area.
Pain and discomfort
Depending on the type and severity of hemorrhoids, individuals may experience varying degrees of pain and discomfort.
Internal hemorrhoids, which are located inside the rectum, may not cause significant pain but can result in a feeling of fullness or discomfort.
External hemorrhoids situated under the skin, around the anus, can be painful due to the presence of numerous sensitive nerve endings in this area.
This pain may worsen during bowel movements or while sitting.
Swelling and inflammation
Hemorrhoids can lead to swelling around the anus, contributing to a sense of discomfort. This swelling can make it uncomfortable to sit for extended periods of time.
Lump or protrusion
In some cases, individuals with hemorrhoids may feel or notice a lump or protrusion around the anus. The lump is often associated with external hemorrhoids and can be tender to the touch.
What Is The Causes of Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids develop when there is increased pressure on the blood vessels in the anal and rectal areas. Here are the factors that contribute to the development of hemorrhoids:
Straining during bowel movements
Straining during bowel movements has become one of the most common causes of hemorrhoids.
When you exert excessive pressure while passing stools, it can lead to the swelling of blood vessels in the rectal and anal areas, causing hemorrhoids. This often occurs due to constipation, which results in hard, difficult-to-pass stools.
Chronic constipation or diarrhea
Chronic constipation or diarrhea can irritate the rectal or anal area, increasing the risk of hemorrhoids. Constipation leads to straining during bowel movements, while diarrhea can result in frequent irritation and inflammation.
Hemorrhoids are more common during pregnancy due to increased pressure on the pelvic blood vessels and hormonal changes.
The growing uterus can exert pressure on the veins in the pelvis, contributing to the development of hemorrhoids.
Excess body weight, especially in the abdominal area, can increase abdominal pressure, leading to the formation of hemorrhoids.
Sitting or standing for prolonged periods
Maintaining a sedentary lifestyle, sitting for extended periods, or standing for long hours without breaks can impair blood circulation in the anal and rectal areas, potentially causing hemorrhoids.
Regularly lifting heavy objects, especially if done incorrectly with straining, can increase abdominal pressure and strain the blood vessels around the anus.
Hemorrhoids become more common as people age. The tissues that support the blood vessels in the rectum and anus may weaken over time.
Hemorrhoids can be more likely to occur if there is a family history.
Lifestyle Choices that May Increase the Risk
Diet low in fiber
A diet low in fiber can lead to constipation, which is a known risk factor for hemorrhoids. Fiber helps soften tools and promotes regular bowel movements.
Lack of physical activity
A sedentary lifestyle can contribute to both obesity and poor blood circulation, increasing the risk of hemorrhoids.
Dehydration can result in hard stools, making them difficult to pass and leading to formation of hemorrhoids.
Ignoring the urge
Delaying bowel movements when you feel the urge can lead to stools becoming harder and more challenging to pass.
What Are The Steps to Prevent Hemorrhoids?
Incorporate more fiber-rich foods into your diet. Include fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts in your meals. Try for 25–30 grams of fiber per day.
Engage in regular physical activity to improve circulation and promote bowel regularity. Exercise can also help manage body weight, reducing the risk of hemorrhoids.
When using the toilet, avoid straining during bowel movements. Allow stools to pass on their own. For added comfort, use a small footstool to raise your feet while sitting on the toilet, which can help align the rectum for easier elimination.
After bowel movements, clean the anal area gently but thoroughly with moist toilet paper, a bidet, or a gentle cleansing wipe. Avoid harsh or scented toilet paper, as it can irritate the area.
Kegel exercises can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and improve circulation in the rectal area. This prevents the development of hemorrhoids.
In summary, hemorrhoids are common and uncomfortable conditions characterized by swollen blood vessels in the rectal and anal areas.
They can lead to various symptoms, including bleeding and discomfort. While lifestyle modifications and preventive measures can help alleviate the risk, seeking medical advice is crucial for persistent or severe cases.
- Hemorrhoids. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/hemorrhoids/all-content. Accessed Feb. 22, 2023.
- Banov L, Jr, Knoepp L F, Jr, Erdman L H, Alia R T. Management of hemorrhoidal disease. J S C Med Assoc. 1985;81:398–401. –