Join the Club
Hemorrhoids are common, treatable and nothing to be embarrassed by
More than half of people over age 50 have hemorrhoids, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. But talking about swollen and inflamed veins in the anal or rectal area is something most of us would rather avoid.
“Talking about hemorrhoids can be difficult, but it’s a very common problem and really a matter of ‘joining the club,’” says fellowship-trained colon and rectal surgeon Joshua Nochumson, MD, with LVPG Surgery in Hazleton. “When patients come to see me, we have a conversation in my office about their symptoms and concerns before we go to the exam room. It’s important to feel comfortable in order to get the help you need.”
What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are small veins that provide cushion in the anal canal and serve a useful purpose to help control gas and bowel movements. Problems occur when hemorrhoids become abnormally swollen or blood pools in them. Symptoms, which vary depending on location (internal vs. external), include bleeding, itching or irritation in the anal area, and lumps or swelling in the anal area.
Hemorrhoids may be caused by:
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Straining during bowel movements
Sitting on the toilet for long periods of time (more than 15 minutes)
Eating a low-fiber, high-fat diet
Being inactive (sitting for long periods) or overactive (frequently lifting heavy objects, squatting, lunging)
Hemorrhoids are common as people age. They also are common during pregnancy due to increased blood flow and pressure from a growing fetus.
What to do?
The good news is that hemorrhoids are usually not dangerous, and a majority of people can find relief without surgery. Minimally invasive procedures using lasers and injections, as well as rubber band ligation, also are available.
Hemorrhoidectomy surgery can permanently remove hemorrhoids when other treatments fail, though less invasive surgical options are more frequently used. “Making changes in diet and toilet habits will provide significant improvement for many people,” Nochumson says. “The important thing is to make an appointment and find out what’s going on. Especially for anyone who is experiencing bleeding – get checked out and don’t wait.”
Learn more about hemorrhoid care. Visit LVHN.org/Hemorrhoids or call 888-402-LVHN.