In the medical world a hemorrhoid is described as an enlarged or swollen vein. Hemorrhoids are somewhat similar to varicose veins that develop in the legs, except that hemorrhoids are veins located in the anus. These veins cushion and protect the anal canal. Pain and problems occur when these veins are stretched and tear under pressure.

Hemorrhoids are a very common medical problem seen in both men and women, usually over the age of 30, with most suffering from hemorrhoid problems between the ages of 45 and 65 years old. It is estimated that more than a half million people seek treatment for symptomatic hemorrhoids each year in the United States. Of this half million hemorrhoid suffers, 10 to 20 percent will need surgical treatment.

Most medical professionals blame the formation of hemorrhoids on prolonged sitting on the toilet and chronic straining due to constipation. Hemorrhoids are also very common during pregnancy, due to the strain from carrying the excess weight of the baby.

You may suffer from internal or external hemorrhoids. Generally internal hemorrhoids, which are located higher up in the anus are not painful, but you will notice bleeding. Hemorrhoids will bleed bright red blood due to their abundance of arterial blood, which is different from the dark blood in your venous system. At times a hemorrhoid will protrude from the anal canal. Usually these hemorrhoids, which are called prolapsed, can be gently pushed back inside. If not, a consultation with a specialist is necessary.

External hemorrhoids are those that are itchy and painful and really uncomfortable. If you experience external hemorrhoids you will see bright red blood on the toilet paper, or in the toilet bowl after a bowel movement.

There are ways to relieve the discomfort of hemorrhoids. A sitz bath can help to relieve the discomfort of hemorrhoids. It is suggested that you sit in a tub of warm water for fifteen minutes several times a day. When you wipe, instead of toilet paper use pads soaked with witch hazel. You can buy these pads at any drug store. Application of any of the numerous over-the-counter hemorrhoid preparations will help to relieve the discomfort and itching.

Prolonged periods of either standing, or sitting can aggravate hemorrhoids. Straining when you have a bowel movement is one of the chief causes of them, and will definitely make them worse and much more painful. Don’t do it. The cause of constipation may be not enough fiber in your diet. Take a fiber supplement.

Any rectal bleeding of any kind should be checked by your physician.