Hemorrhoids, also called “piles”, are swollen blood vessels in around the anus and lower rectum that stretch under pressure. Hemorrhoids are nothing to be embarrassed about – in fact, about 50% of the population will suffer from them by the age of 50.
Hemorrhoids can be internal (inside your anal canal) and may also protrude outside the anal canal or external, which is felt like extra skin or lump around the anus.
What are the symptoms of hemorrhoids?
Many people have hemorrhoids and don’t have any symptoms. Hemorrhoid symptoms include:
- Bright red blood covering your stool or on the toilet paper
- Mucous or stool soiling on your underwear
How are hemorrhoids diagnosed?
Anytime there is bleeding from the rectum or blood in the stool that lasts more than a few days a doctor should evaluate you. The doctor will examine the anus and rectum and do a rectal exam. The doctor may want to do a colonoscopy to make sure the bleeding is not caused by another condition like polyps, colitis or cancer.
Can you prevent them?
There are ways to potentially prevent hemorrhoids.
- Keep stools soft
- Empty bowels as soon as possible after the urge occurs
- Don’t sit on the toilet for a long period of time trying to have a bowel movement
- Exercise, including walking
- Increase fiber and non-alcoholic fluids in your diet