Q: What causes hemorrhoids?

A: Everyone has hemorrhoids, just like we are all born with a belly button or umbilicus. Some people have symptoms such as bleeding with bowel movements, protrusion or prolapse, anal itching, pain or a sensitive lump or bump. Other contributing factors include aging; chronic constipation or diarrhea; pregnancy; heredity; faulty bowel function due to overuse of laxatives or enemas, or straining during bowel move-ments; or spending long periods of time on the toilet. Whatever the cause, the tissues supporting the veins stretch. As a result, the veins dilate; their walls become thin and bleed. If the stretching and pressure continue, the weakened veins protrude. If you have symptoms, particularly blood in the stool, you should consult a physician.

-- Dr. Shauna Lorenzo-Rivero, colorectal surgeon,

Universal Surgical Associates; member,

Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

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