What Causes Hemorrhoids
and Symptoms of Hemorrhoids

Even if you think you know what causes hemorrhoids, reading this page will give you a better insight into the causes and symptoms of this very painful condition and might give you new clues on how you can go about treating and/or preventing this problem.

Of course, you can cut to the chase, if you prefer, and go straight to the Best Treatment for Hemorrhoids page.



What are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids (or haemorrhoids) are swollen veins around the opening of the anus and in the rectum (the very lowest part of the colon) that may protrude from the anus. They are also known as piles.

They are very much like varicose veins; veins, that is, that enlarge and lose their elasticity, resulting in saclike protrusions into the anal canal.

They are not tumors or growths, you'll be pleased to know, but can be very painful nevertheless.

They begin to develop during the 20s; symptoms start to manifest in the 30s. Fifty percent of people older than 50 have symptomatic hemorrhoids. One third of people in western countries have hemorrhoids to some degree, a very common problem!

Straining to respond to the call of nature is very often what causes hemorrhoids in the first place. This puts a lot of stress on the tiny veins in the anus or rectum, which, in the long run, can cause them to swell and stretch out of shape.

There are different types of hemorrhoids, depending on their location, severity and the amount of pain, discomfort and aggravation they cause. This is one way of classifying them:

internal and external hemorrhoids
  • External hemorrhoids - These develop under the skin around the anus. They may form a heard lump and cause painful swelling if a blood clot forms. When an external hemorrhoid swells, the tissue in the area becomes firm but sensitive and turns blue or purple in color. This type of hemorrhoid most often affects younger people and can be extremely painful. If external hemorrhoids are present, it's likely that internal ones are present as well.
  • Internal hemorrhoids - These are located inside the rectum and are usually painless, especially if located above the anorectal line (rectal tissues lack nerve fibers). Internal hemorrhoids do, however tend to bleed. When they do the blood appears bright red.
  • Prolapsed hemorrhoids - A prolapsed hemorrhoid is an internal hemorrhoid that collapses and protrudes outside the anus, often accompanied by mucous discharge and heavy bleeding. Prolapsed hemorrhoid can become thrombosed - that is, they can form clots within that prevent their receding. Thrombosed hemorrhoids can be excrutiatingly painful.

What Causes Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids can be caused or aggravated by:

  • Sitting or standing for prolonged periods
  • Violent coughing
  • Lifting heavy objects (or lifting even relatively light objects improperly)
  • Straining during bowel movements (especially when constipated, although bouts of diarrhea accompanied by involuntary spasms can exacerbate the problem)
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Liver damage
  • Food allergies
  • Insufficient consumption of dietary fiber
  • Insufficient consumption of fluids in the diet
  • Common during pregnancy and childbirth
  • Sometimes there can be a genetic weakness of the veins or venous valves

Symptoms of Hemorrhoids

The most common symptoms of hemorrhoids include:

  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Inflammation
  • Swelling
  • Irritation
  • Seepage
  • Bleeding
  • Pain

PLEASE NOTE:

Finding bright red blood in the stools can be a frightening experience. Although it does signal that something is wrong in the digestive system, rectal bleeding is not necessarily an indication of serious disease. But it MUST be checked out by your doctor to rule out other conditions.

According to Dr Sean Preston, consultant gastroenterologist at Bart's and the London NHS Trust "both haemorrhoids and bowel cancer can cause rectal bleeding and any such bleeding should be investigated to rule out per-cancerous polyps or bowel cancer".

(Read the article Ignoring piles can just pile on problems on the MailOnline).

The mechanics of what causes Hemorrhoids

Veins in general are fairly frail structures. They're vessels that return deoxygenated blood to the heart, but sometimes the laws of gravity slow down this process in the lower half of the body. Plus, increased pressure and defects in the vein's wall can lead to dilation of the vein and damage to the valves, which can cause varicose veins in the legs.

Normally, these valves prevent blood from backing up and pool in certain areas. The veins around the anus are particularly susceptible - not only are they in the lower part of the body but they also contain no valves, causing the blood to pool around the area and cause swelling. So any factors increasing venous pressure in the region can lead to dilated veins.

A low-fibre diet high in refined foods contributes greatly to the development of hemorrhoids. Individuals who consume a low-fibre diet tend to strain more during bowel movements, since their smaller, harder stools are more difficult to pass.

This straining raises the pressure in the abdomen, which obstructs venous blood flow, increases pelvic congestion and may significantly weaken the veins, and this could be what causes hemorrhoids to form or can aggravate the problem.

A high-fibre diet is perhaps the most important component in the prevention of hemorrhoids as it increases the volume of the stool, thus causing less straining during defecation, therefore a significantly lower risk of developing hemorrhoids.

RELATED PAGES:

Best Hemorrhoids Treatment and Healing Foods for Hemorrhoids

To find out which other healing foods must be included in the best hemorrhoids treatment and which one are best avoided look up the page Hemorrhoid Pain Relief with Healing Foods.

What causes hemorrhoids is also at the root of constipation so you'll want to follow all the advice found on the Constipation pages.


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FURTHER READING:


What Causes Hemorrhoids

Best Hemorrhoids Treatment

Hemorrhoid Pain Relief with Healing Foods

Causes of Constipation

Symptoms of Constipation

Foods that Relieve Constipation (Part 1) - Discussing Apples, Beans, Berries, Flaxseed and Dried Fruits

Foods that Relieve Constipation (Part 2) - Discussing Dark Leafy Greens, Ginger, Honey, Rhubarb, Squash and Coffee

High Fibre Diet Plan

Benefits of Fibre

Prune Juice for Constipation







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