Understanding Hemorrhoids: Causes, Types and Symptoms

Hemorrhoids are painful and can happen when we least expect it. Let’s look at why these bulging rectal veins happen, what their symptoms are and types. Your GI doctor wants you fully informed to help prevent this digestive health problem from recurring.

Causes of Hemorrhoids

About one out of every 20 American adults suffers with symptoms of hemorrhoids. These swollen blood vessels can develop regardless of ethnicity or gender; however, as people age, hemorrhoids may more easily occur.

Also called piles, hemorrhoids are swollen and bulging. They affect the rectum and anus. During a flare-up, they cause a variety of uncomfortable symptoms.

Symptoms of Hemorrhoids

If you develop hemorrhoids, there’s no mistaking their signs and symptoms. Most people report:

  • Pain, soreness and intense itching around the anus
  • Rectal bleeding (blood seen on toilet tissue after a bowel movement)
  • Difficulty sitting still because of discomfort
  • An aching sensation in the rectum when sitting
  • Lumps in or around the anus

Left untreated, hemorrhoids can lead to infection, blood clots and even anemia. For most people, however, flare-ups last about a week as simple at-home treatments prove very effective in reducing swelling and pain.

Types of Hemorrhoids

Gastroenterologists categorize hemorrhoids as:

  • External, or protruding from the anus, forming purplish bulges
  • Internal, located just inside the anus and usually only felt upon digital rectal examination by a healthcare provider
  • Prolapsed, which are enlarged in size, causing a fair amount of pain and bleeding

All types of hemorrhoids can have various causes, including:

  • Constipation and straining when pooping
  • Sitting for prolonged periods of time on the toilet
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Too little fiber in the diet
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Heavy lifting

Prevention of Hemorrhoids

Fortunately, hemorrhoids can be treated successfully through over the counter medications, changing to a higher fiber diet, staying adequately hydrated and taking care when lifting. Pregnancy hemorrhoids typically resolve after giving birth. Losing weight helps people who are obese improve their gastrointestinal health, including lessening the occurrence and severity of hemorrhoids.

However, as with most health conditions, prevention is the first and best remedy. So, to avoid hemorrhoids, be sure to:

  • Consume 20-35 grams of soluble fiber every day
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day
  • Keep a healthy body weight and exercise regularly
  • Use the toilet only when you feel the need to move your bowels
  • Avoid frequent use of laxatives

Your GI Specialists Can Cure Hemorrhoids Near You

In California, Genensis Healthcare Partners Health delivers premier gastroenterology treatments for a wide range of conditions, from simple hemorrhoids to Crohn’s disease and colon cancer. We have 65 board-certified physicians practicing at 30 locations throughout the state.

If you have symptoms of hemorrhoids, don’t wait, Contact the location nearest you for an in-person appointment with one of our doctors. Dr. Edward Bentley serves in our Santa Barbara office and is accepting new patients.

We hope to see you soon!