Are Hemorrhoids Normal?

Medically reviewed by: Gary H. Hoffman, MD

Most people will deal with inflamed hemorrhoids at some point in their lives, so the condition is common enough that the answer to “are hemorrhoids normal?” might as well be yes. “Hemorrhoids” are one of the top-trending health conditions searched online year after year, and more than one out of every two people will struggle with the itching and burning associated with hemorrhoids before age 50.

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But that does not mean you should not see a hemorrhoid specialist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment when you suffer symptoms. Not only will a visit to the doctor rule out any serious colon and rectal conditions, it can also bring you relief faster.

Everyone Has Hemorrhoids – And Most Have Issues With Them

Everyone has hemorrhoidal tissue. It is located just inside the anal opening, as well as externally. This tissue is basically a pad of blood vessels that help you control when and how your body releases stool. What most people think of as “hemorrhoids” occur when the blood vessels in these pad become inflamed.

The symptoms of inflamed external hemorrhoids include the well-known itching, burning, and pain during bowel movements. When internal hemorrhoids become inflamed, sometimes there are no symptoms. Often, blood in the stool is the first symptom. Many people avoid talking to their doctor or seeing a hemorrhoid specialist for their symptoms, because they are embarrassed to discuss them. This is not a good idea. While hemorrhoids are usually little more than a painful annoyance, they can lead to severe bleeding.

Causes of Hemorrhoid Problems

Hemorrhoid inflammation can happen to anyone. It is more common as you age, but can affect men or women of any age. Most people will suffer from hemorrhoid issues at some point during their lives. Family history may play a role in development of inflamed hemorrhoids, especially those that recur frequently.

Pregnant women are at an increased risk of inflamed hemorrhoids, because of the additional pressure caused by the growing baby. They commonly suffer from constipation, a major contributor to the development of hemorrhoid problems. Bearing down during labor may also cause swelling and inflammation of these tissues.

Taking narcotic painkillers or eating a diet that does not contain enough fiber can cause constipation. The extra time spent on the toilet straining to pass hard stools can irritate hemorrhoids, leading to symptoms. We often prescribe stool softeners and a change to a diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to help relieve constipation.

Sitting on hard surfaces or working a sedentary job can exacerbate hemorrhoids, so we encourage our patients to take a walk once every few hours at work. Sitting on a supportive cushion instead of a hard surface can also help.

Don’t Feel Embarrassed About Your Symptoms

While hemorrhoid issues are relatively normal, it is important to get an accurate diagnosis and a treatment plan based on your specific case. There is no reason to be embarrassed to talk to your doctor about your symptoms. Troubles with hemorrhoids are the most common reason people call us, and the symptoms are the top complaint we hear from patients. We can help you feel comfortable talking about your symptoms, and help reduce your anxiety about the examination. In most cases, we can put you on an at-home treatment plan or offer relief through an in-office procedure.

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