3 Causes of Hemorrhoids and How to Treat Them

A diagram of where hemorrhoids occur

Hemorrhoids are clusters of veins that occur beneath the mucus membranes that line the lowest part of the rectum and anus. There are two different kinds of hemorrhoids: internal and external. Internal hemorrhoids take place in the lower rectum, while external hemorrhoids occur under the skin around the anus. Both men and women can develop hemorrhoids, and the condition is prevalent, with one in every 20 Americans affected. It is estimated that about half of adults over the age of 50 have hemorrhoids. Due to this condition’s prevalence, we wanted to delve into some of the leading causes of hemorrhoids and what you can do to help treat them.

The Main Causes of Hemorrhoids


Pregnancy is one of the most common causes of hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids typically occur during the mid-second trimester to third trimesters of pregnancy. At this stage in pregnancy, the pressure from the enlarged uterus in conjunction with increased blood flow can cause swelling in the veins of the rectal wall. Straining associated with constipation also plays a role in aggravating or causing hemorrhoids during pregnancy. 

Being Overweight

In some cases, carrying excess weight adds extra pressure that constricts the veins and blood vessels surrounding the anus and the colon. Those who have excess weight around the abdominal area are at a higher risk of developing hemorrhoids.


Straining is one of the most common causes of hemorrhoids. Chronic constipation, straining during bowel movements, and sitting on the toilet for a prolonged period of time can all interfere with normal blood flow, leading to hemorrhoids.

Treatment Options for Hemorrhoids


In addition to drinking more water, incorporating supplements or foods high in fiber can help prevent occasional hemorrhoid flare-ups. Fiber can also help with bleeding associated with hemorrhoids, inflammation, and enlargement.


Regular exercise, even as little as walking 20 to 30 minutes a day, can help stimulate bowel movement and prevent constipation, decreasing the chance of developing symptoms from hemorrhoids.

Topical medications

Over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams and wipes can help reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation. It’s important to note that excessive wiping with toilet paper to relieve itching will only increase swelling.

Take your time

When you have to use the bathroom, make sure you take your time to avoid unnecessary straining. You should also avoid holding it when you feel the need to go. The back up of stool can add to the increased pressure. When you’re finished, instead of sitting on a hard surface for the rest of the day, sit on a cushion to reduce swelling and prevent new hemorrhoids from forming.

See a Specialist

Internal hemorrhoids can be treated with hemorrhoid banding. This painless and minimally invasive procedure can be done in our office.  We also offer HET (Heat Energy Therapy), which uses low grade heat energy to treat internal hemorrhoids. This non surgical treatment is done in an endoscopy center and can treat multiple hemorrhoids at once. If hemorrhoids are left untreated, they have the potential to become more advanced.  In some instances, surgery may become necessary. Procedures such as hemorrhoidectomies can cure a high percentage of cases that retain a low complication rate.

Contact a Gastroenterologist

For chronic hemorrhoids or complications associated with hemorrhoids, contact Birmingham Gastroenterology. Our team has decades of experience treating diseases and disorders in all parts of the digestive system. If you have questions about hemorrhoids or recently been referred to a gastroenterologist, call us at (205) 271-8000 or make an appointment to discuss your symptoms or questions.

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