What you don't know about hemorrhoids could kill you

Fifty percent of Americans will suffer from hemorrhoids by age 50.

But do you really know what you need to about this painful condition?

"Being on the stage and acting gives me the opportunity to shine some of my own light. You know, this is me, this is my creative expression."

But offstage, Dan is shining the spotlight on a personal problem.

“I found this lump. So, I ran off to my doctor and he said, 'oh you got a hemorrhoid.'"

Hemorrhoids affect about 10 million Americans at any given time, but doctor Sergey Kantsevoy says most have no idea hemorrhoids could kill you.

"Hemorrhoids by itself can cause significant blood loss. It's life threatening, if you're losing a lot of blood."

Chronic blood loss can lead to anemia, or worse.

"If they are bleeding from hemorrhoids, this can provoke heart attack in people with bad coronary artery, I think it's very important that people don't attribute all rectal bleeding to hemorrhoids,” explains Dr. Kantsevoy.

The bleeding could be a sign of colorectal cancer, or a digestive disorder, something Dan is monitoring.

“I have an uncle that died of colon cancer, um, and it's a family history for me," Dan said.

Dr. Kantsevoy says Dan is also implementing prevention strategies, like eating foods high in fiber and staying active.

“Swelling and itching can be reduced by ointments, less straining, and not turning bathroom time into downtime, all reading materials should be eliminated from the bathroom. Bathroom is not library."

It's interesting to note that being sedentary can be just as big a risk factor as lifting heavy weights.

Both can put undue pressure on your bottom half, causing hemorrhoids to grow larger.

REPORT #2027

WHAT ARE HEMORRHOIDS?: Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anal canal. It is a common problem that can be painful, but it's usually not serious. Veins can swell inside the anal canal to form internal hemorrhoids or they can swell near the opening of the anus to form external hemorrhoids. It is possible to have both types at the same time. The treatment and symptoms depend on which type you have. (Source: www.webmd.com)
CAUSES: Too much pressure on the veins in the pelvic and rectal are causes of hemorrhoids.
* Normally, tissue in the anus fills with blood to help control bowel movements. Straining can increase pressure and cause the veins in this tissue to swell and stretch, resulting in hemorrhoids.
* Diarrhea or constipation may also lead to straining.
* Pregnant women can get hemorrhoids during the last six months of pregnancy. This is due to increased pressure on the blood vessels in the pelvic area. Straining to push the baby out during labor can make them worse.
* Being overweight can also lead to hemorrhoids. (Source: www.webmd.com)

INTERNAL HEMORRHOIDS: With internal hemorrhoids, you might see bright red streaks of blood on toilet paper or bright red blood in the toilet bowl after you have a normal bowel movement. You may also see blood on the surface of the stool. They are often small, swollen veins in the wall of the anal canal. However, they can be large, sagging veins that bulge out of the anus all the time. (Source: www.webmd.com)

EXTERNAL HEMORRHOIDS: External hemorrhoids can get irritated and clot under the skin, causing a hard painful lump. This is called a thrombosed, or clotted, hemorrhoid. (Source: www.webmd.com)

? For More Information, Contact:

Sergey Kantsevoy, MD, PhD.
Clinical Professor of Medicine
University of Maryland School of Medicine
Director of Therapeutic Endoscopy
Institute of Digestive Health and Liver Disease
Mercy Medical Center

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