Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
 

Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids

Illustration of the anatomy of the digestive system, adult
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What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are veins, normally present in and around the anus and lower rectum, that have become swollen due to stretching under pressure. These are very common in both men and women, and about half the population have hemorrhoids by age 50. Hemorrhoids are also common in pregnant women due to the pressure of the fetus in the abdomen, as well as hormonal changes, which cause hemorrhoidal vessels to enlarge. The process of childbirth also puts severe stress of these vessels.

Hemorrhoids are either internal (inside the anus) or external (under the skin around the anus).

What causes hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids may develop as a result of repeated straining during bowel movements, pregnancy, heredity, aging, and chronic constipation or diarrhea.

What are the symptoms of hemorrhoids?

The following are the most common symptoms of hemorrhoids. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

The symptoms of hemorrhoids may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

How are hemorrhoids diagnosed?

The presence of blood in the stool can be indicative of other digestive disorders, including colorectal cancer, so thorough evaluation and proper diagnosis is important.
Diagnosing hemorrhoids may include:

Illustration demonstrating a colonoscopy
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Treatment for hemorrhoids

Specific treatment for hemorrhoids will be determined by your doctor, based on:

Medical treatment of hemorrhoids is aimed at relieving symptoms and may include the following:

Your doctor may also recommend increasing both fiber and fluids to soften stools. A softer stool lessens pressure on hemorrhoids caused by straining. Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Bulk stool softeners or fiber supplements, such as psyllium (Metamucil) or methylcellulose (Citrucel), may also be recommended.

In some cases, it is necessary to treat hemorrhoids surgically. Several surgical techniques are used to remove or reduce internal and external hemorrhoids. These include the following:

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Online Resources of Digestive Disorders

 

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