Hemorrhoids and Rectal Bleeding

Hemorrhoids and Rectal Bleeding

What Are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are swollen, inflamed veins in the anorectal area - the lower part of the rectum and the anus. They are similar to varicose veins which are swollen, twisted veins in the legs.

They may be inside the anus, in the lower rectum (internal), outside the anus (external), or both internal and external (mixed). Hemorrhoids are the most common cause of minor rectal bleeding.

What Are The Symptoms Of Hemorrhoids?

Internal and external hemorrhoids have different symptoms.

Internal Hemorrhoids

Internal hemorrhoids are usually not painful. Common symptoms may include: bright red streaks of blood in the stool, on toilet paper, or in the toilet with bowel movements. Discomfort and pain may occur if internal hemorrhoids extend out of the anus (prolapse). 

External Hemorrhoids

Symptoms of external hemorrhoids may be similar to those that occur with internal hemorrhoids. Anal aching, pain, and itching are also common. And, you may see or feel prolapsed internal or external hemorrhoids as tender lumps in the anal area.

What Increases The Risk Of Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are more common with diarrhea, constipation, sitting or standing for long periods of time (including sitting on the toilet), straining (with heavy lifting and with bowel movements), extra body weight, pregnancy, and middle-to-older age.

Do Hemorrhoids And IBS Occur Together?

Hemorrhoids may occur with IBS. Diarrhea, constipation, straining, and long periods of time on the toilet are risk factors for hemorrhoids. 

Of course, diarrhea and/or constipation are part of IBS. And, with the abnormal bowel movements, both straining and long periods of time on the toilet may be present. All of these factors increase the chance of hemorrhoids in those with IBS.

Treatment of IBS symptoms decreases the risk of developing hemorrhoids and may help existing hemorrhoids to heal.

How Can I Prevent Hemorrhoids?

In general, hemorrhoids are prevented by avoiding or decreasing those things that cause them.

One of the most effective measures is to increase fiber and fluids (especially water) in your diet. Doing so helps to keep your bowel movements more regular and is good for your overall health. 

  • Fiber intake recommendations may vary based on individual country guidelines. Generally, the recommended intake of fiber is 18-25 g/day for women and 21-30 g/day for men.

  • High fiber foods include whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and beans. To maintain health, water from foods and drinks is usually adequate for most people.

There are some other things that can help to prevent hemorrhoids.

  • Maintain a healthy weight.

  • Try not to strain when having bowel movements

  • Don’t sit on the toilet for long periods of time.

How Are Hemorrhoids Treated?

Increasing fiber and fluids not only help to prevent hemorrhoids, but also helps to lessen hemorrhoid symptoms. The same is true for avoiding straining with bowel movements and avoiding long periods of time on the toilet.

Other possible home care treatment includes over-the-counter stool softeners or fiber supplements and warm water soaks. Hemorrhoids may also require prescription medicines, and in some situations, in-office procedures or surgery.

For More Information

U.S. National Library of Medicine (2020). Hemorrhoids. Retrieved on 11-28-2022 from https://medlineplus.gov/hemorrhoids.html.