Common Causes of Hemorrhoids

Understanding the Cause of Hemorrhoids Can Prevent Future Issues

woman using the toilet at home
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Hemorrhoids, also known as anal piles or rectal piles, are very common. Most Americans will experience hemorrhoids at some point in their life, especially women who become pregnant. Some hemorrhoids can be prevented, and the pain can be minimized in others.

What Are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are caused by swollen veins in the anal and rectal areas. These swollen veins can become inflamed and may bulge with pressure increases, such as when straining to have a bowel movement or sneezing.

As hemorrhoids bulge, internal hemorrhoids that normally rest inside the rectum may push out through the anus. At this time, they are referred to as external hemorrhoids.

Hemorrhoids, both internal and external, can cause significant discomfort and pain. Activities and conditions that increase the pressure on these blood vessels will increase the chances of developing hemorrhoids and as pressure increases so will pain and the size of the hemorrhoids.

Common Causes of Hemorrhoids

In some cases, there is little that can be done to prevent hemorrhoids from forming. There are medical conditions that can lead to hemorrhoids, as well as risk factors that are beyond anyone's control. Common causes are:

  • Heredity
  • Pregnancy
  • Age
  • Medical conditions that increase abdominal pressure, such as liver disease

Preventable Causes of Hemorrhoids

The vast majority of the preventable causes of hemorrhoids can be remedied by a few simple steps, including drinking adequate fluids, adding fiber-rich foods to the diet such as fruit and vegetables, and not trying to force a bowel movement.

Stool needs to be made softer, this will prevent straining during bowel movements and will reduce pressure on the hemorrhoids. The best way to do this, as mentioned before, is a diet high in fiber with a high water intake. Avoid constipation. There are also over the counter stool softeners, such as Metamucil, which holds water and helps soften the stool.

In an ideal world, this would be accomplished with appropriate food choices, but for some, the additional help of a stool softener is essential. 

Preventable causes:

  • Bearing down too hard or too long
  • Chronic constipation
  • Too little fiber
  • Dehydration
  • Hard stools
  • Sitting on the toilet for extended periods of time

A few simple changes in your daily bathroom habits as well as your eating habits can make an enormous change in the pain that you feel from your hemorrhoids, as well as how often they become an issue. For some, aggressive changes to diet and fluid intake, such as reducing caffeine and drinking more water, can make a surprisingly large impact and may make it possible to avoid hemorrhoid surgery.


Hemorrhoids. National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Accessed June, 2011.