If there’s one problem most people won’t take sitting down, it’s hemorrhoids. They’re itchy, painful, and annoying. They’re also a lot more common than you think.
The French emperor Napoleon had hemorrhoids which led to his downfall at Waterloo. Because he was in so much pain, he couldn’t mount his horse to survey the battlefield. This prevented him from getting a clear view of the situation and cost him his empire.
Former Japanese Prime Minister Fumimaro Komoye also suffered from hemorrhoids and was unable to attend an important cabinet meeting where a United States peace proposal was to be discussed. His absence eventually led to Japan’s entry into World War II.
Statistics show that about half of all Americans or four out of five people have hemorrhoids. Many others are unaware of this mainly because there are no symptoms.
“About 15 to 20 percent of the population have hemorrhoids. That’s probably at the low end of my speculation. By experience, however, I see a lot of people with hemorrhoids,” according to Dr. Ed T. Corpus Jr., a general and vascular surgeon at the Vein Care Clinic at Ferosa Condominium in Manila.
Hemorrhoids or piles are varicose veins of the rec¬tum. They usually appear after the age of 30 and are more common in women than in men. They can be found either inside or outside the anal canal. External hemorrhoids protrude and are visible. They’re also painful since they’re located in one of the body’s most sensitive areas – the skin in and around the anus. Internal hemorrhoids, on the other hand, can’t be seen and are often painless since there are no nerve endings where they’re at.
“There’s a specific line of distinction or demarcation at the anal region. It’s called the pectinate line and it separates the veins. Those that originate below that line are classified as external hemorrhoids. Those that are above it are called internal hemorrhoids,” explained Corpus who trained in New York and Philadelphia.
What causes the rectal veins to become swollen and inflamed? Aging appears to be a factor in the development of hemorrhoids. As we grow older, the blood vessels and connective tissue in the lower rectum become looser and weaker, gradually descending toward the anus.
This is further aggravated by chronic constipation (which is common in those who lack dietary fiber and don’t consume plenty of fluids), bad habits such as postponing bowel habits, straining during elimination, and recurrent diarrhea – all of which put a lot of pressure on the veins.