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What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids, also called piles, are inflamed veins in the lower rectum or anus. The condition typically occurs when the vein walls in the rectum or anus become so thin that the veins bulge or protrude. Hemorrhoids can occur internally (within the rectum) or externally (on the anus).

Hemorrhoids are not uncommon. In fact, almost three out of four adults will have hemorrhoids from time to time. In some instances, a blood clot will develop within a hemorrhoid (referred to as a thrombosed hemorrhoid) and may cause pain or discomfort. The board-certified gastroenterologists at GI Alliance specialize in treating hemorrhoids and other gastrointestinal (GI) conditions. To find care for this common concern, please contact a GI Alliance location in your area.

What causes hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids may be caused by a number of factors. Reasons a hemorrhoid might occur include:

  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Family history of hemorrhoids
  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Standing or sitting for long periods of time
  • Straining too hard to perform a physical activity (like lifting weights)
  • Chronic constipation
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Aging

What are the symptoms of hemorrhoids?

Symptoms of hemorrhoids vary depending on the location of the hemorrhoids, but commonly include:

  • Pain during bowel movements
  • Itching around the anus
  • Bright red blood in the stool
  • Pain and/or swelling around the anus
  • Pink, blue, or purple bumps that protrude around the anus
  • Pain around the anus while performing physical activities

How are hemorrhoids treated?

In some cases, smaller hemorrhoids may resolve on their own after a few days. Your GI Alliance gastroenterologist may prescribe medications or suggest home remedies to relieve the symptoms of hemorrhoids. When larger hemorrhoids occur, however, medical intervention may be needed to remove or treat the hemorrhoid. Common hemorrhoid treatments include:

  • A high fiber diet
  • Maintaining a clean anal region
  • Avoiding the use of dry toilet paper
  • Ice packs to reduce anal swelling
  • Topical cream
  • Draining a clotted hemorrhoid (thrombosis)
  • Rubber band ligation
  • Sclerotherapy
  • Coagulation
  • Surgery
  • Hemorrhoid stapling
  • Tub baths several times a day in warm water
  • Treating constipation or the cause of the hemorrhoids
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Prompt treatment for hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids typically do not lead to serious health concerns, but they can be bothersome and interfere with your quality of life. If you are in need of treatment for hemorrhoids, the specialists at GI Alliance are here to help. Please contact a GI Alliance location near you to connect with a gastroenterology specialist.

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