Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in your rectum or anus. The type of hemorrhoid you have depends on where it occurs.
If you have a hemorrhoid, you may feel a tender lump on the edge of your anus. You may also see blood on the toilet paper or in the toilet after a bowel movement.
Hemorrhoids are caused by increased pressure in the veins of your anus or rectum. One of the main causes is straining when you're trying to have a bowel movement. This may happen if you're constipated or if you have diarrhea. It may also happen if you sit on the toilet too long. Hemorrhoids can also be caused by obesity, heavy lifting or any other activity that caused you to strain.
Just about everyone has hemorrhoids at some time. But some things may make you more likely to get them. People whose parents had hemorrhoids may be more likely to get them. Pregnant women often get hemorrhoids because of the strain from carrying the baby and from giving birth. Being very overweight or standing or lifting too much can make hemorrhoids worse.
See your doctor if you notice bleeding to make sure the cause is hemorrhoids and not some other problem. Bleeding from your rectum or anus or bloody stools may be a sign of something more serious such as cancer.
Don't use hemorrhoid medicine without talking to your family doctor first.
Painful hemorrhoids usually stop hurting on their own in 1 to 2 weeks. If yours keep causing problems, talk with your doctor.
Rubber band ligation can be used to treat internal hemorrhoids. It involves placing a small rubber band around the base of the hemorrhoid. This stops the flow of blood to the area and the hemorrhoid withers away.
Internal hemorrhoids can also be destroyed by injecting them with a chemical. A hemorrhoidectomy (surgical removal of the hemorrhoid) may be needed if internal hemorrhoids are prolapsed or very large.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff