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Hemorrhoids: How to know if you have them

What are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are enlarged veins in or around your anus caused by increased pressure in the pelvic and anal region. Many lifestyle factors and habits can lead to hemorrhoids. Or if you’re planning to start a family, pregnancy can bring them on. People who regularly experience constipation and diarrhea may want to discuss these symptoms with their doctor.

External hemorrhoids may be visible and more easily identifiable than internal hemorrhoids. Having more awareness about signs and symptoms can make it easier for you to recognize the condition and seek treatment. Let’s explore some common symptoms below so you can decide if it’s time to explore treatment options.

Hemorrhoids Symptoms

Internal hemorrhoids can be tricky to identify since you can’t easily see or feel them. Here are some of the most common signs related to internal and external hemorrhoids.

Rectal Discomfort

External hemorrhoids can cause itching and irritation around your anus. The bulging anal veins may become swollen and distended, causing discomfort–and sometimes pain. You may notice swelling, itching, or uncomfortable lumps near your anus.

Rectal Bleeding

If you notice blood on the toilet paper or in the toilet bowl after having a bowel movement, you may have an internal hemorrhoid. Blood or mucus in your stool may also signify other more serious problems, such as colorectal cancer — more commonly called colon cancer. Check with your doctor if you see blood when using the toilet.


Some people might feel like they can’t fully eliminate stool after a bowel movement. This sense of fullness may come from bulging veins in the anus or rectum.

Visibly Prolapsed Hemorrhoid

Sometimes an internal hemorrhoid can make its way out of the anus. It looks like a pink skin mass protruding from the anus. Some people notice it after a bowel movement. When it exits the anus, it’s called a prolapsed hemorrhoid. When this happens, it may cause rectal leakage and discomfort, but generally is not painful.

Understanding Risk Factors

Notice times of excessive straining in the pelvic or anal region–both of which can bring on the condition. Pain and discomfort flares up when anal veins bulge and stretch from straining.

Review these risk factors to see which ones might look familiar.

  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Sitting on the toilet for long periods
  • Chronic constipation
  • Frequent diarrhea
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Anal intercourse
  • Heavy lifting
  • Low-fiber diet

The risk of developing hemorrhoids increases as you age, and when anal tissues weaken and stretch. There are very few severe complications with hemorrhoids, but they can cause significant discomfort, embarrassment, and disruption to your life. If you experience hemorrhoid discomfort, you also might want to read up on anal fissures.

Prevention Strategies

Prevention starts with noticing your bowel movements and whether they are soft enough to pass smoothly. Straining during bowel movements can lead to pressure in the anal region, which may exacerbate the issue.

Here are some prevention strategies to consider.

  • Eat a high-fiber diet, including whole fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Drink enough fluids, especially water
  • Take a fiber supplement if you cannot get the recommended 20 to 30 grams of fiber each day
  • Don’t strain during a bowel movement
  • Go to the bathroom right away when you feel the urge
  • Don’t sit on the toilet for a long time
  • Increase activity and reduce your time sitting
  • Contact your doctor if you develop hemorrhoids that don’t respond to home treatments within a week.

Hemorrhoids Doctors in Denver and Boulder

You may have hemorrhoids if you have noticed changes in your bowel movements or discomfort in the anal region. Don’t just live with the discomfort–contact Gastroenterology of the Rockies to explore your treatment options. Talk to our hemorrhoid specialists today.

You can also visit our Hemorrhoid Center of Colorado web page to learn more about hemorrhoid treatments and branch locations.