Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in and around the anus and lower rectum. The blood vessels are stretched under pressure. Hemorrhoids are grouped as either internal or external.
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The exact cause of hemorrhoids is unknown. Excess pressure on the veins in the rectum is a major factor. If the pressure continues, the veins enlarge and stick out.
Hemorrhoids are more common in older adults. Factors that increase your risk of getting hemorrhoids include:
Not everyone will have symptoms. For those that do have symptoms, most will go away within several days.
Common symptoms include:
Bleeding from the rectum or blood in the stool can be a symptom of other conditions including rectal or colon cancer. It is important to see a doctor if you have any rectal bleeding so they can rule out other causes.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your anus and rectum will be examined to look for swollen blood vessels. A rectal exam will be done.
An endoscope may be needed to see deeper areas of the rectum and colon.
Treatment will first focus on relieving symptoms. Steps that may help include:
The hemorrhoid may need to be shrunk or destroyed if the steps above do not give you relief. These procedures, which are generally performed in a doctor’s office, include:
The best way to prevent hemorrhoids is to keep stools soft so they pass easily. The following can help:
American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons
National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse
The Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Alonso-Coello P, Guyatt G, Heels-Ansdell D, et al. Laxatives for the treatment of hemorrhoids. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005;(4):CD004649.
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Hemorrhoids. American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons website. Available at: https://www.fascrs.org/patients/disease-condition/hemorrhoids. Accessed June 20, 2016.
Hemorrhoids. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116475/Hemorrhoids. Updated July 10, 2016. Accessed September 28, 2016.
Hemorrhoids. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at:
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Updated November 2013. Accessed June 20, 2016.
Jayaraman S, Colquhoun PH, Malthaner RA. Stapled versus conventional surgery for hemorrhoids. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006;(4):CD005393.
Last reviewed January 2018 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 2/8/2018
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