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What are Hemorrhoids and What Causes Them?

photo showing a composition of medical items including blue pills, injections, and a syringe | GI NorthHemorrhoids or piles are swollen veins in the lower part of the anus and rectum. A more severe case is when the blood vessel walls are stretched so thin that the veins become irritated and bulge especially when relieving the bowels.

Rendering to Medical News Today, a hemorrhoid can be very painful and dreadful but are preventable and effortlessly treated. Left untreated, a hemorrhoid will actually worsen over time. In fact, most physicians recommend seeking immediate care.

Medical News Today also reports there are up to 75 percent of adults in the US and Europe will have a hemorrhoid at some time in their lives. And about 50 percent of the same people are over 50 years old. Most will also need treatment. However, only about 4 percent seek medical treatment.

For the most part, a hemorrhoid is most common in adults between the ages of 45 to 65. However, young adults and children can also get a hemorrhoid. As well, they are more common in men than in woman. Moreover, pregnant woman are very likely to get hemorrhoids.


There are a wide variety of factors that can cause a hemorrhoid such as prolonged sitting or standing, hard stools (generally a lack of fiber), great strain during a bowel movement and heredity.

During pregnancy, there is a lot of excess weight and pressure on the rectum. This puts strain on the veins resulting in irritation and swelling. Also, during childbirth the veins go through a lot of strain and pressure that often causes a hemorrhoid.

Numerous Types

Basically, there are two types of hemorrhoids. If the hemorrhoid first arises from the lower part of the anal canal close to the anus, it is regarded as an external hemorrhoid. If it is inside the rectum, it is known as an internal hemorrhoid.

An external hemorrhoid is the most recognized. They also cause a lot of pain due to clotting under the skin and irritation. Internal hemorrhoids are difficult to diagnose because they are not within sight and are generally painless. However, according to the Mayo Clinic, an internal hemorrhoid may not be painful but they do tend to bleed

Hemorrhoid Symptoms

The most common hemorrhoid symptoms are pain near the rectal area, bleeding during bowel movements and itching. Sometimes that can also be blood in the stool or toilet paper. In the medical world, physicians often use a grading scale that describes the level of hemorrhoids:

1st degree – A hemorrhoid that is bleeding but is not prolapsed.
2nd degree – Hemorrhoids that are prolapsed and retracted (may or may not be bleeding).
3rd degree – The hemorrhoid has prolapsed and needs to be pushed back in.
4th degree – The hemorrhoids have prolapsed and cannot be pushed back in.


One of the best ways to prevent hemorrhoids is a healthy diet and lifestyle such as:
• Daily exercise to improve blood circulation
• Eat a diet high in fiber and plenty of water to encourage soft stools.
• Avoid extended amount of hours of sitting or standing. If work requires you to sit all day, use a doughnut pillow and move around every 20 minutes.


Sometimes severe cases require surgery, but it is not a common necessity. If you suspect that your hemorrhoids are severe, do not hesitate to contact your doctor or a physician at GI North that specializes in gastroenterology and other issues such as hemorrhoids. Dr. Cofrancesco and Dr. Quijano at GI North serve the Cumming, GA area as well as Alpharetta, Canton, Roswell and Suwanee. Dr. Quijano also speaks fluent Spanish.

© 2016 GI North Gastroenterology Services. All rights reserved.

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