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Hemorrhoids Are Common, Preventable and Treatable
Date:2/15/2013

FRIDAY, Feb. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Hemorrhoids are a hot topic online, and that's probably because they're so common.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration reports that "hemorrhoids" was the top-trending health-issue search in the United States in 2012 and most people -- up to 75 percent -- will be affected by hemorrhoids at some point in their lives, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Hemorrhoids are swollen and inflamed veins in the rectum or anus. The good news is there are several ways to treat hemorrhoids and ease the pain, itching or other symptoms they may cause, according to an article posted on the FDA's "Consumer Updates" Web page.

The uncomfortable condition usually affects adults aged 45 to 65 and hemorrhoids are typically caused by increased pressure in the veins of the anus. Obesity and inactivity play a role in who develops hemorrhoids. Pregnancy and childbirth can also increase women's risk for these protrusions.

When hemorrhoids do form, they occur inside the rectum (internal hemorrhoids) or near the anal opening (external hemorrhoids).

"You often can't see or feel the internal ones," said Dr. Herbert Lerner, a colon-rectal surgeon and FDA medical officer, in an agency news release. "But straining during bowel movements and constipation can cause these hemorrhoids to bleed and occasionally push through the anal opening."

Taking the following steps can keep stools soft and prevent hemorrhoids:

  • Eat fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Exercise and avoid sitting in one place for too long
  • Take stool softeners or fiber supplements

When a hemorrhoid pushes through the anal opening, it is known as a protruding or prolapsed hemorrhoid, which can be irritating. Blood can pool in an external hemorrhoid and form a clot, which can cause severe pain, swelling and inflammation,
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