What Are the Risk Factors for Haemorrhoids?

Your chances of developing haemorrhoids are largely dependent on these nine risk factors.

If you feel a tender lump on the edge of your anus, you probably have haemorrhoids. Haemorrhoids are swollen veins found in your anus and lower rectum. They can be painful and itchy, and they can also bleed when you go to the toilet.

Haemorrhoids are a very common health condition. Statistics show 75 per cent of the population will develop it at some point in their lives. Knowing and understanding the different risk factors can help you know if you may be at risk for haemorrhoids, and help you prepare yourself for it. These risk factors are closely connected to the increased pressure on the veins found in the anus and rectum. These include:

1. Old Age

The older you get, the greater your risk for developing haemorrhoids. This is due to the wear and tear of tissues that support the veins in your rectum and anus. Over time, these tissues weaken and stretch as you age. Although adults aged 45 to 65 years old have the highest chances of developing haemorrhoids, children and young adults may still develop them too.

2. Family History & Genetics

Your chances of developing haemorrhoids are higher if your family has a history of this condition. People may inherit a tendency to develop haemorrhoids. Some people may genetically lack valves within the haemorrhoid’s veins that results in excessive vascular pressure and swelling.

Haemorrhoids is a common symptom of the inherited disorder Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), in which the lack of collagen leads to the impairment of the pelvic floor tissues, ultimately resulting in haemorrhoids. Haemorrhoids in EDS can sometimes indicate a more serious complication called rectal prolapse, wherein the bowel falls partially or even completely out of the body.

3. Pregnancy

It is common to develop haemorrhoids during pregnancy. Not only does the weight of the baby put additional pressure on the renal and anal veins, but hormonal changes can also cause excessive swelling of the blood vessels.

During pregnancy, the enlarged uterus exerts greater pressure on the inferior vena cava causing the blood from the lower limbs to flow back to the heart. This prompts the vessels below the uterus – including the vessels of the haemorrhoid cushion – to dilate. In addition to this, childbirth puts extra strain on these vessels, increasing the risk for haemorrhoids to develop.

Statistics show 35 per cent of women develop haemorrhoids during pregnancy, with each subsequent birth increasing the mother’s risk.

4. Obesity

Individuals suffering from obesity have a higher risk for haemorrhoids because of the pressure that the excess weight puts on the veins and blood vessel in the anal region, especially if the excess weight is in the abdomen.

5. Chronic Constipation or Diarrhoea

Frequent constipation or diarrhoea can aggravate the development of haemorrhoids by the constant stimulation of the anal and rectal tissues.

6. Sitting Too Long on the Toilet

Sitting on the toilet for long periods can increase your chances of developing haemorrhoids. Prolonged sitting on the toilet can cause your blood vessels to stretch so thinly making them bulge and dilate. This can also happen if you sneeze too hard.

7. Low-Fibre Diet

To prevent haemorrhoids, it is important to incorporate fibre into your diet as fibre aids in your smooth bowel movement. Having a low-fibre diet can increase your risk of constipation, which can lead to straining and haemorrhoids.

8. Enemas and Laxatives

Some enemas and laxatives can induce forceful defecation and even diarrhoea, increasing your risk of, or worsening your already existing haemorrhoids. But some bulk-forming laxatives like Metamucil and Fiberall can help improve your diarrhoea and subsequently prevent haemorrhoids.

9. Straining

Straining while on the toilet puts you at risk for developing haemorrhoids. It can aggravate and push out your internal haemorrhoids, making them external haemorrhoids, which are also called prolapsed or protruding hemorrhoids that you’ll want to get rid of.

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