Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in the rectum or anus. The hemorrhoidal veins are located in the lowest area of the rectum and the anus. Sometimes they swell so that the vein walls become stretched, thin, and irritated by passing bowel movements. Hemorrhoids are classified into two general categories: internal and external.
If you have small, internal hemorrhoids, you may not be able to feel or even see them. With larger ones, you may feel a small hard lump on the outside of your anus.
Almost 1 in 2 Canadians have experienced hemorrhoids at some point in their lifetime.1 However, certain people are more likely to get hemorrhoids than others, such as:
- Men and women over the age of 45
- Pregnant women, as extra weight increases the pressure on your pelvic blood vessels
- Women who have just given birth, from pushing during childbirth
Find out more about hemorrhoids amongst new moms.
There are also certain lifestyle factors that make you more likely to suffer from hemorrhoids, such as:
- Not eating enough dietary fibre, which can lead to constipation and straining
- Prolonged diarrhea
- Frequently lifting heavy objects
If you suspect you have hemorrhoids, visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis (especially if you’re experiencing a noticeable change in your stool).
It's also a good idea to visit your doctor if this is the first time you're experiencing hemorrhoid symptoms. They may recommend an over-the-counter treatment for your symptoms that you can buy from your local pharmacy, or supermarket (pharmacy section).
And by making little changes to your daily routine, you can start making a difference right away!
You've got a range of treatment options. Find out more about how you can treat your hemorrhoid symptoms.
1Hemorrhoid Study Online Omnibus. Ipsos Reid, July 2005, n=1412