Hemorrhoids are one of the most common gastrointestinal problems, affecting about half of adults at least once by the age of 50. This condition can be painful, and it sometimes becomes a recurring problem, but it rarely leads to medical complications. The vast majority of cases go away on their own or with minimal treatment.

A guy about to sit on a cactus simulating the pain of a hemorrhoid.
Internal & External Hemorrhoids

What Are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swollen veins or blood vessels that form in the lower part of the rectum and anus. This problem can occur for a number of reasons. Some of the most common causes include straining during bowel movements, chronic constipation, and sitting or standing for long periods of time. Pregnant women are at an increased risk of developing hemorrhoids, and there may also be a genetic component that makes some people more susceptible.

A guy holding his butt from the pain of a hemorrhoid.

What Are the Common Symptoms?

Internal hemorrhoids, which form inside the rectum, are not usually painful, but they may cause bleeding during bowel movements. External hemorrhoids, which form around the anus, can be very painful and uncomfortable. Here are some of the most common symptoms:

  • Irritation or inflammation around the anus
  • Swelling
  • Itchiness
  • Discomfort with sitting
  • Painful bowel movements
  • Fecal leakage
  • Bright red Bleeding
  • Swelling and palpable lump in anal area

How are Hemorrhoids Treated?

Fortunately, hemorrhoids are easily treatable. In many cases, they improve wigh simple lifestyle modifications. The pain can be relieved by taking warm baths, sitting on a warm water tub, or taking over-the-counter pain medicine. Topical treatments like hydrocortisone can help as well. If the symptoms don’t ease up with home treatments, your doctor may perform a rubber band ligation, which involves cutting off circulation to the hemorrhoid with a rubber band. A severe case may require a hemorrhoidectomy, which is a surgery that removes the swollen blood vessels.

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