What are haemorrhoids?
Haemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in the rectum or anus. The haemorrhoidal veins are located in the lowest area of the rectum and the anus. Sometimes they swell so that the vein walls become stretched, thin, and irritated by passing bowel movements. Haemorrhoids are classified into two general categories: internal and external.
What do haemorrhoids feel like?
If you have small, internal haemorrhoids, you may not be able to feel or even see them. With larger ones, you may feel a small hard lump on the outside of your anus.
Who is most likely to get haemorrhoids?
Many Australians will suffer from haemorrhoids at some time in their life. Statistics indicate that up to 30% of people in western cultures will be affected by haemorrhoids at some point in their lives.1 However, certain people are more likely to get haemorrhoids than others, such as:
- Men and women over the age of 45
- Pregnant women, as extra weight increases the pressure on your pelvic blood vessels
- Women who have just given birth, from pushing during childbirth
Find out more about haemorrhoids amongst new mums.
There are also certain lifestyle factors that make you more likely to suffer from haemorrhoids, such as:
- Not eating enough dietary fibre, which can lead to constipation and straining
- Prolonged diarrhoea
- Frequently lifting heavy objects
If you suspect you have haemorrhoids, visit your doctor for a proper diagnosis (especially if you’re experiencing a noticeable change in your stool).
It's also a good idea to visit your doctor if this is the first time you're experiencing haemorrhoid symptoms. They may recommend an over-the-counter treatment for your symptoms that you can buy from your local pharmacy, or supermarket (pharmacy section).
And by making little changes to your daily routine, you can start making a difference right away!
How can you get relief?
You've got a range of treatment options. Find out more about how you can treat your haemorrhoid symptoms.