gastrointestinal conditions


Most people at some point experience hemorrhoids and the itching, burning and bleeding that often comes with them. Hemorrhoids are swollen veins around or inside your anus—the opening through which bowel movements leave your body.

Veins are an important part of anal tissue because blood filling these tissues helps to control your bowel movements. But if these veins suffer extra pressure, they can swell and create a lot of discomfort around your anus.

This extra pressure can come from several sources:

  • Constipation and straining to release bowel movements
  • Pressure from pregnancy and childbirth
  • Heavy lifting
  • Obesity
  • Other medical problems that cause blood to settle in the pelvic area

External hemorrhoids form around the anus, while internal hemorrhoids form along the interior wall of the anus. Internal hemorrhoids sometimes become so large they bulge out of the anal opening.

Symptoms of Hemorrhoids

Signs of hemorrhoids include:

  • Streaks of red blood when you wipe after a bowel movement
  • Itching or burning in the anal area
  • Lump on or near the anus


In order to diagnose hemorrhoids, your doctor will likely discuss your symptoms with you and perform a physical exam, which may include feeling inside your anus and rectum to check for internal hemorrhoids. Your doctor may also recommend a procedure like flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy to visually inspect more of your lower intestine using a tiny camera inserted with a flexible tube. This can help rule out any other causes of your discomfort or bleeding.


Most hemorrhoids can be treated by changing your diet to reduce constipation. Over-the-counter medications like anti-itch creams and stool softeners may also be useful in treating both the causes and symptoms of hemorrhoids.

Your doctor may treat more severe hemorrhoids by banding them to reduce their blood supply, which in turn will help them shrink. If a hemorrhoid is unusually large or bleeding or if it has become filled with hard, clotted blood, it may need to be removed surgically.

Eating a fiber-rich diet, maintaining a healthy weight, drinking plenty of fluids and getting regular exercise can help you avoid developing hemorrhoids.