Though the term hemorrhoid has received tremendous bad press, truth is that having hemorrhoids is not in itself a dangerous health condition. In fact, hemorrhoids are tissues within the anal canal and nearby areas which help us control bowel movements.
- “Internal hemorrhoids occur above the anal canal.
- External hemorrhoids occur below the anal canal and in the skin around the anus.
- Thrombosed hemorrhoids, whether external or internal, occur when a blood clot forms inside the hemorrhoidal tissue. A thrombosed hemorrhoid can prolapse or slip out of place.”
But with age, the veins in the hemorrhoidal tissue get distended and loose. The hemorrhoidal tissue also become more sensitive from straining, leading to clot formation, swelling, or erosion of the lining, and bleeding.1 This is known as enlarged hemorrhoids or piles. It is believed that at least half the population go through piles at some point in their lives.
Symptoms of hemorrhoids include rectal bleeding, bulging, pain, itiching, and burning in the anal area. The causes of hemorrhoids are:
1. Straining From Constipation Or Hard Stool
“Avoid straining on the toilet bowl by having fibrous food to make the stool soft and easy to pass.”
Spending too much time in the toilet is said to be one of the reasons for hemorrhoids. This is mainly from constipation or hard stools that require much straining to be passed.2 A good number of people experience hemorrhoids in relation to constipation or straining. Straining can also result in the prolapse of the hemorrhoid tissues which can be felt near the anus. High anal pressure from straining can result in anal fissures, too.3
2. Wiping Too Much Or Too Long
“Use extra-soft baby wipes when you have diarrhea.”
Not just constipation, diarrhea too can lead to hemorrhoids. You might wonder how loose stools can result in hemorrhoids. Wiping the anus too hard and/or for too long are very common causes of hemorrhoids. Diarrhea makes your rectal area sore and prompts you to make frequent trips to the toilet and wipe your anus frequently. This can result in hemorrhoids.
While diarrhea gets treated and your bowel movements get back to normal, go easy on the wiping. You can use extra soft baby wipes to avoid “bloody” wipes which are often the not-so-subtle indicator that you have hemorrhoids.
3. Pressure In The Abdomen Due To Obesity
“Eat the right type of food and exercise. There’s no short cut to weight loss.”
Obesity is considered one of the major risk factors of hemorrhoids. This is due to the increased intra-abdominal pressure, venous congestion, and chronic inflammation in the abdominal area of the obese patients.4 To avoid piles, you need to ensure your body weight is well within the limit.
4. Pregnancy And Straining During Delivery
“Constipation during pregnancy needs to be avoided anyway. Get a diet with the right type of fiber and lots of water.”
Many women complain of thrombosed external hemorrhoids and anal fissures after childbirth from straining during childbirth. Constipation during pregnancy can also lead to hemorrhoids5 and so can prolonged standing.6
5. Spinal Cord Injuries
“You need to seek medical help to better manage bowel movement in serious cases like spinal cord injury.”
There is evidence of hemorrhoid cases among long-term spinal cord injury patients. Long-term spinal cord injuries can affect the efficient management of bowel. Constipation and diarrhea are frequent occurrences in such patients, which can cause hemorrhoids. Another risk factor is the use of suppositories and enemas in the case of constipation.7
6. Anal Sex
Though there aren’t many scientific studies available, there are anecdotes that show anal sex as one of the risk factors. Hemorrhoids have been noticed among both heterosexual and homosexual couples engaging in anal sex.
7. Excessive Heavy Lifting
Gym enthusiasts, as well as those involved in manual material handling where lifting heavy objects are involved, should apply caution as this too is considered a risk factor.
8. Weak Pelvic Muscles
Those with weak pelvic support are often asked to work on strengthening the muscles to reduce the incidents of hemorrhoids or piles.
Be cautious of these risk factors so you can avoid this painful condition in the future.
|↑1||Haas, Peter A., Thomas A. Fox, and Gabriel P. Haas. “The pathogenesis of hemorrhoids.” Diseases of the colon & rectum 27, no. 7 (1984): 442-450.|
|↑2||Johanson, John F., and Amnon Sonnenberg. “The prevalence of hemorrhoids and chronic constipation: an epidemiologic study.” Gastroenterology 98, no. 2 (1990): 380-386.|
|↑3||Arabi, Y., J. Alexander-Williams, and M. R. B. Keighley. “Anal pressures in hemorrhoids and anal fissure.” The American Journal of Surgery 134, no. 5 (1977): 608-610.|
|↑4||Lee, Jong-Hyun, Hyo-Eun Kim, Ji-Hun Kang, Jin-Young Shin, and Yun-Mi Song. “Factors associated with hemorrhoids in korean adults: korean national health and nutrition examination survey.” Korean journal of family medicine 35, no. 5 (2014): 227-236.|
|↑5||Abramowitz, L., and A. Batallan. “Epidemiology of anal lesions (fissure and thrombosed external hemorroid) during pregnancy and post-partum.” Gynecologie, obstetrique & fertilite 31, no. 6 (2003): 546-549.|
|↑6||Pregnancy And Hemorrhoids. APA.|
|↑7||Menter, Robert, David Weitzenkamp, Dianne Cooper, Jenny Bingley, Susan Charlifue, and Gale Whiteneck. “Bowel management outcomes in individuals with long-term spinal cord injuries.” Spinal cord 35, no. 9 (1997).|