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If you don't think you care to know anything about hemorrhoids because the word alone is enough to make you cringe, then you might consider this: nearly everyone gets hemorrhoids at some point in his or her life. So what exactly are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoid is the name given to blood vessels around the anus or in the anal canal that become swollen. It's thought that extreme abdominal pressure plays a key role in causing blood vessels to swell and become irritated. Some sources of such abdominal pressure might include obesity, pregnancy, standing or sitting for long periods, and straining from constipation or diarrhea.

So how do you know if you have hemorrhoids? Symptoms vary depending on where the hemorrhoid forms. External hemorrhoids are those that develop near the opening of the anus and often times they cause itching, burning, and irritation. Internal hemorrhoids develop inside the anal canal.

The most common symptom of an internal hemorrhoid is rectal bleeding. This might mean red streaks of blood on toilet paper or blood in the toilet bowl after having a normal bowel movement. Though most cases of hemorrhoids aren't anything to worry about and either don't require treatment or can be treated at home, it's wise to see a doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.

What can you do about hemorrhoids? They rarely go away completely without a medical procedure, but living with them can be made tolerable by changing your diet. Think high-fiber and lots of fluids, especially water. In fact, people who consistently consume a high-fiber diet and lots of water are unlikely to get hemorrhoids in the first place.

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