Hemorrhoids (or hemroids) are also known as piles. Although they can be extremely unpleasant and painful for many people, they can be easily treated and are very preventable.
As hemorrhoids generally get worse as time goes by, health care professionals suggest they should be treated as soon as they appear.
It has been suggested that up to 75 percent of adults in Europe and North America will experience hemorrhoids at some point in their lives.1 Approximately 50 percent of those people aged 50 years and over will require treatment.2 However, it is striking that only around 4% actually seek medical treatment.2 Doctors say a large number of people who go and have a checkup are found to have hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids are most common among adults aged between 45 and 65.3 This does not mean, however, that young people and children do not get them. Hemorrhoids are much more common among men than women. A woman is most likely to get them when she is pregnant.
Fast facts on hemorrhoids
Here are some key facts about hemorrhoids. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.
- Hemorrhoids can be uncomfortable for many people, yet they are easily treated and prevented.
- Hemorrhoids are more common in men than women.
- A female is more likely to get hemorrhoids while pregnant.
- The likelihood of suffering from hemorrhoids increases as a person ages.
- Hemorrhoids occur when the veins surrounding the anus are inflamed.
- Occurrence of hemorrhoids can be due to pregnancy, aging, chronic diarrhea, constipation, straining to move a stool, sitting for long periods, anal intercourse, obesity and genetics.
- Bleeding occurring in the anal area, itching, discomfort, swelling may indicate hemorrhoids.
- A doctor can carry out a physical examination to confirm if you have hemorrhoids.
- In most cases patients can take simple measures to alleviate symptoms while the problem heals on its own.
- Sometimes medicines and surgery are needed to treat hemorrhoids.
What causes hemorrhoids?
When the veins around the anus or in the rectum are swollen or inflamed the patient has hemorrhoids. They can occur for the following reasons:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Chronic constipation
- Straining to move stool (related to the previous one)
- Sitting for long periods (especially sitting for long periods at a time in the toilet)
- Anal intercourse
- Genetics - some people inherit a tendency to develop hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids can occur both inside and above the inside of the anus. They can also appear externally, under the skin of the anus.
The two types of hemorrhoids
On the next page we look at the symptoms of hemorrhoids and when you should see a Doctor. On the final page we discuss treatment options for hemorrhoids and how you can prevent them occurring in the first place.