Hemorrhoids are a common medical condition experienced by a wide variety of people. They are swollen, painful veins in the lower part of the anus or rectum that can come and go in their pain and severity. Hemorrhoids are most common in pregnancy and women shortly after childbirth, though other people can also get them. Increased pressure in the veins of the anus are what causes hemorrhoids.

Causes of Hemorrhoids

A variety of things may cause hemorrhoids in individuals, including straining during bowel movements, pregnancy, constipation, sitting for long periods of time, infections of the anus, or some diseases like liver cirrhosis. Hemorrhoids can be inside or outside of the body. Internal hemorrhoids are just inside the anus and are sometimes hard to see or feel. They will be located at the very beginning of the rectum. External hemorrhoids hang outside the anus or are right at the anal opening, becoming obvious to the person with the hemorrhoids.

Symptoms of Hemorrhoids

A variety of symptoms may be experienced by someone with hemorrhoids including anal aches or pains, especially while sitting or having a bowel movement, anal itching, bright red blood on the toilet tissue, in the toilet bowl or in your stools, and feeling one or more hard tender lumps near the anus.

Diagnosing Hemorrhoids

In most cases, a doctor only needs to examine the rectal area in order to determine whether or not you have hemorrhoids. If complications occur, other tests are ordered such as a stool guaiac to show the presence of blood in the stool, sigmoidoscopy, or an anoscopy.

Treating Hemorrhoids

If you have been diagnosed with hemorrhoids there are a number of different things you can do. Over-the-counter corticosteroid creams can be applied to the anal area to help reduce swelling and pain as well as applying a hemorrhoid cream with lidocaine to help numb the area and reduce pain or discomfort. Stool softeners are often recommended for loosening your stools to reduce straining when having a bowel movement. To reduce anal witching, try applying witch hazel with cotton swabs. Other things to help with itching include wearing cotton undergarments, avoiding toilet tissue with perfume or colors and use baby wipes instead, and avoid scratching the area. A warm water bath can also help reduce itching and pain. Occasionally, surgery is required to remove hemorrhoids if they become a burden such as causing too much pain or get large.

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