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More on Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids (Piles) (cont.)

What causes hemorrhoids?

While the presence of hemorrhoids is a reflection of the normal anatomy, most people and care professionals refer to hemorrhoids as an abnormal finding because they only present when they swell and cause problems.

Hemorrhoid swelling occurs when there is an increase in the pressure in the small vessels that make up the hemorrhoid causing them to swell and engorge with blood. This causes them to increase in size leading to symptoms. Increased pressure may be caused by a variety of factors:

  • Low fiber diet and smaller caliber stool causes a person to strain when having a bowel movement, increasing the pressure within the blood vessels.
  • Pregnancy is associated with hemorrhoid swelling and is likely due to increased pressure of the enlarged uterus on the rectum and anus. In addition, hormonal changes with pregnancy may weaken the muscles that support the rectum and anus.
  • Prolonged sitting on the toilet may increase pressure within the hemorrhoid blood vessels
  • Obesity
  • Diarrhea, both acute and chronic
  • Colon cancer
  • Previous rectal surgery
  • Spinal cord injury and lack of erect posture

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