You hear about hemorrhoid treatments on television and you read about hemorrhoids in magazines. But do you really understand what hemorrhoids are (other than a sometimes painful nuisance?) Hemorrhoids refers to a condition in which the veins around the anus or lower rectum are swollen and inflamed.
Hemorrhoids are the result of what life gives you – they may result from straining to move stool, pregnancy, aging, chronic constipation or diarrhea.
Hemorrhoids are either inside the anus (internal) or under the skin around the anus (external). Hemorrhoids usually are not dangerous or life threatening and in most cases, hemorrhoidal symptoms will go away within a few days. And remember, you’re not alone! Hemorrhoids are common in both men and women and just about one person of every two (50%!) of the population has hemorrhoids by age 50.
If you think you may have hemorrhoids – bleeding from the rectum, swollen glands – a thorough evaluation is the next step, as bleeding may also be a symptom of other digestive diseases, including colorectal cancer.
To relieve hemorrhoids, your physician may recommend increasing fiber and fluids in your diet. Eating the right amount of fiber and drinking six to eight (or more) ounces of fluid (excluding alcohol) result in softer, bulkier stools. A softer stool makes emptying the bowels easier and lessens the pressure on hemorrhoids caused by straining.
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