What Are Hemorrhoids? PDF  | Print |  E-mail

What are hemorrhoids? Hemorrhoids are caused by the swelling or inflammation of the veins found within the external areas of the anus.  They are informally referred to as piles. Hemorrhoids and preventable and completely treatable. However, once you suspect you have hemorrhoids you should seek medical advice as they do worsen over time. It has been estimated that at least 80% of adults in North America and Europe have been or will be afflicted with hemorrhoids. When routine checkups are performed a large number of patients are found to have hemorrhoids.

Older people are at a higher risk of developing hemorrhoids because of the lowered ability to eat high fibre foods. Young adults and children do occasionally get hemorrhoids and they have been found to be more common in men than in women. They also tend to develop more rapidly in pregnant women because of the slowdown in digestion and the extra strain on the pelvic floor caused by the growing uterus.

What Are Hemorrhoids?


A few common risk factors include:

  • Chronic constipation
  • Straining when defecating
  • Anal Intercourse
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Genetics (they may be more apparent in some families)
  • Sitting for prolonged periods

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Leakage of Feces
  • Swelling in or around the anus
  • A tiny lump near the anus that is painful to the touch
  • Itching or irritation that is present near or in the anus
  • Some bleeding that is not accompanied by much pain. (This bleeding is most noticeable when the patient wipes.)
  • Anal discomfort and pain
  • Lumps that protrude from the anal cavity

If the hemorrhoids are located further within the anus there may not be many symptoms. The only likely symptom that may be present is slight bleeding after a bowel movement is forced out. In some instances if the sufferer strains while experiencing an internal hemorrhoid it may cause it to protrude forming what is known as a prolapsed hemorrhoid.

If the hemorrhoids are located on the surface of the anus they will often become very itchy and may possibly bleed. It is possible for the blood to build up and create a thrombus or clot which will cause further pain and swelling in the area.

To avoid getting hemorrhoids it is best that you eat a diet rich in fiber from vegetables, whole wheat and fruits. Make sure that you eat at least one serving of a high fiber food to avoid becoming constipated. In addition you may take over the counter or prescription laxatives when you are constipated to avoid excess strain. Drinking water, since it is a good way to restore and keep a healthy balance as it allows easier movement of waste matter through the digestive track.

You can now answer the question, "What are hemorrhoids?"