Hemorrhoids are enlarged veins in or around your anus caused by increased pressure in the pelvic and anal region. There are many things that can lead to hemorrhoids, including pregnancy, constipation, and diarrhea.
External hemorrhoids may be visible and more easily identifiable than internal hemorrhoids. Knowing the signs of hemorrhoids can make it easier for you to recognize and seek treatment for them.
Symptoms of Hemorrhoids
Internal hemorrhoids can be tricky to identify since you can’t easily see or feel them. Here are some of the most common signs you have a hemorrhoid–even if you can’t see them.
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.
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. Check with your doctor if you see blood when you use the toilet.
People with hemorrhoids may 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–and it can mean you’ve got hemorrhoids.
You see it
Sometimes, an internal hemorrhoid can make its way out of the anus. You may see a pink skin mass protruding from the anus or feel it when cleaning after a bowel movement. When an internal hemorrhoid exits the anus, it’s called a prolapse. A prolapsed hemorrhoid may cause rectal leakage and discomfort but is not generally painful.
Understanding the Risk for Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids occur when there is excessive strain in the pelvic or anal region. Anal veins bulge and stretch, causing pain and discomfort.
Several factors put people at risk of developing hemorrhoids, including:
Straining during bowel movements
Sitting on the toilet for long periods
The risk of developing hemorrhoids increases as you age, and anal tissues weaken and stretch. There are few severe complications of hemorrhoids, but they can cause significant discomfort and disruption to your life.
The best way to avoid hemorrhoids is to ensure your bowel movements are soft so they can pass smoothly. Straining during bowel movements can lead to pressure in the anal region, allowing hemorrhoids to occur.
Here are some of the best ways to prevent hemorrhoids:
Eat a high-fiber diet, including whole fruits and 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.
Identifying and Treating Hemorrhoids
You may have hemorrhoids if you have changes in your bowel movements or discomfort in your anal region. Don’t just live with the discomfort–contact the team at Gastroenterology of the Rockies to explore your treatment options.