Internal and external hemorrhoids are dilated veins that are located in and below the anal canal. They are part of the normal anatomy but can produce problems when they become enlarged and inflamed.

While some people develop symptomatic hemorrhoids as a result of a genetic tendency to hemorrhoidal enlargement, the majority of people develop problems with hemorrhoids because of constipation due to inadequate dietary fiber .

The symptoms caused by hemorrhoids include pain, bleeding, protrusion, soiling and itching. The type of symptoms are related to whether the internal hemorrhoids, external hemorrhoids or both are symptomatic. Symptomatic hemorrhoids rarely cause life-threatening problems but can sometimes significantly affect people’s ability to carry on their normal daily activities. It is extremely important to determine the cause of rectal bleeding since some anal, rectal and colon cancers can cause bleeding that is indistinguishable from hemorrhoidal bleeding.

There are a variety of medical and surgical treatments for hemorrhoids. The majority of symptoms will usually resolve simply by increasing dietary fiber . This can be accomplished by increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables or consuming the many psyllium or methyl cellulose products that are available without prescription. Medicated suppositories are sometimes very helpful. The application of tiny rubber bands around the base of hemorrhoids is an efficient, painless means of outpatient treatment of internal hemorrhoids. Patients who do not respond to or are not candidate for simple methods of treatment can undergo an operative hemorrhoidectomy utilizing either conventional or laser techniques.