Hemorrhoids are swollen veins around the anus and in the rectum (the very lowest portion of the colon) that may protrude from the anus. Hemorrhoids are very much like varicose, veins, *they enlarge and lose their elasticity, resulting in saclike protrusions into the anal canal. They are not tumors or growths. They can be caused, and aggravated, by sitting or standing for prolonged periods, violent coughing, lifting heavy objects (or lifting even relatively light objects improperly), and straining at bowel movements (especially when constipated, although bouts of diarrhea accompanied by involuntary spasms can exacerbate the problem).
Other factors that can cause or contribute to the formation of hemorrhoids include obesity, lack of exercise, liver damage, food allergies, and insufficient consumption of dietary fiber. Hemorrhoids are common during pregnancy and after childbirth. Hormonal changes and pressure exerted by the growing fetus may be the reasons. Approximately half of all Americans have had hemorrhoids by the age of fifty.
The incidence increases with age until age seventy, then begins to decrease again. The most common symptoms of hemorrhoids include itching, burning, pain, inflammation, swelling, irritation, seepage, and bleeding. The bleeding, which is usually bright red during bowel movements, can be startling, even frightening. Although it does signal that something is amiss in the digestive system, rectal bleeding is not necessarily an indication of serious diselse.
There are different types of hemorrhoids, depending on their location, severity, and the amount of pain, discomfort, or aggravation they cause. These are:
These develop under the skin at the opening of the anal cavity. They may form a hard lump and cause painful swelling if a blood clot forms. When an external hemorrhoid swells, the tissue in the area becomes firm but sensitive and turns blue or purple in color. This type of hemorrhoid most often affects younger people and can be extremely painful.
Internal hemorrhoids are located inside the rectum. They are usually painless, especially if located above the anorectal line, because rectal tissues lack nerve fibers. Internal hemorrhoids do, however, tend to bleed. When they do, the blood appears bright red.
A prolapsed hemorrhoid is an internal hemorrhoid that collapses and protrudes outside the anus, often accompanied by a mucous discharge and heavy bleeding. Prolapsed hemorrhoids can become thrombosed that is, they can form clots within that prevent their receding. Thrombosed hemorrhoids can also be excruciatingly painful.
As far as we know, hemorrhoids are unique to human beings. No other creature develops this problem. This can be taken as an indication that our dietary and nutritional habits probably play a greater role in this disorder than anything else. Hemorrhoids can occur at any age, but they tend to become more common as people age. Among younger people, pregnant women and women who have had children seem to be the most susceptible. The tendency to develop hemorrhoids also appears to be hereditary. Although *hemorrhoids can be quite painful, they do not usually pose a serious threat to health.
Unless otherwise specified, the dosages recommended here are for adults. For children between the ages of twelve and seventeen, reduce the dose to three-quarters the recommended amount. For children between six and twelve, use one-half the recommended dose. And for children under the age of six, use one-quarter the recommended amount.