What Are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins around the anus. When the veins around the anus stretch under pressure, and when they swell and bulge, they are called hemorrhoids.
One set of veins is inside the rectum (internal), and another is under the skin around the anus (external). Hemorrhoidal tissue is thought to be helpful in holding back stool when we are at rest and in cushioning muscles when we move our bowels.
Swelling can be caused by straining to move your bowels, sitting too long on the toilet or other causes, such as pregnancy, obesity or liver disease.
How Common Are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are very common in men and women and about half of all people have noticeable hemorrhoids by the age of 50. Many people have occasional bleeding from hemorrhoids and women’s problems may start during pregnancy. The pressure of the fetus in the abdomen, as well as hormonal changes, cause hemorrhoidal veins to swell. These veins also are placed under severe pressure during the birth of the baby. For most women, such hemorrhoids don’t last long.