What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids or haemorrhoids, as they are called in the UK, are blood vessel structures in the anal canal that help to move each stool through so it can be eliminated. However, if they become swollen or inflamed, they can become painful. At this point, they are often referred to as "piles." The proper terminology for this is "hemorrhoidal disease."
The hemorrhoids that are causing problems because they are swollen or inflamed can be located internally or externally. Most internal hemorrhoids cause bleeding but no pain. External hemorrhoids are generally painful and also cause bleeding. It can feel like you are passing razor blades and it can be extremely painful. Sometimes people think they have hemorrhoids but the issues in this area are caused by something else, so it is always worthwhile to get a medical opinion.
What causes hemorrhoids?
The exact cause is unknown but sometimes irregular bowel movements (e.g. constipation or diarrhea) appears to play a part. Hemorrhoids are extremely common, with 50% of people suffering from them at one time or another by age 50. Sometimes, women develop hemorrhoids during pregnancy. People are told to avoid straining while attempting to defecate.
Some people believe that the increase in the incidence of the number of people with hemorrhoids is because of conventional western style toilets. They say that when you squat to defecate the shape of the elimination passage straightens out, making it easier to remove waste easily and without strain.
Disclaimer: The statements made on this page have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. If a condition persists, please contact your physician or healthcare provider. The information provided is not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a healthcare provider, and should not be construed as medical advice.