Overview of Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are inflamed veins within swollen tissue of the anus and rectum.

Hemorrhoids are very common. Hemorrhoids may become symptomatic as a result of activities or conditions that increase pressure in these veins. This in turn results in distention and engorgement of the veins. Straining with defecation, constipation, frequent diarrhea episodes, prolonged sitting, pregnancy, obesity and low fiber diet all may contribute to hemorrhoids.

Anatomically speaking, there are two kinds of hemorrhoids: internal hemorrhoids that are higher up in the rectum and external hemorrhoids that are lower.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Bleeding
    • Painless, bright red bleeding with bowel movements is usually caused by
      internal hemorrhoids
    • Pain and bleeding with bowel movements is likely due to an external 
      hemorrhoid that may have formed a clot (or other conditions such as anal fissures or rectal abscesses)
  • Protrusion of the hemorrhoid, which is then noticed as an uncomfortable swelling or lump in the anal area
  • Rectal itching also can be a symptom when external hemorrhoids are irritated
  • If the rectal bleeding is not due to hemorrhoids then another medical evaluation is advised.


The mainstay of prevention is bowel management to promote regular defecation of soft, formed bowel movements, which will decrease straining:

  • High fiber diet and/or fiber supplements
  • Drink plenty of non-caffeinated clear liquids or water
  • Avoid sedentary lifestyle with its associated prolonged sitting/standing; get regular exercise
  • Do not ignore the "urge" to have a bowel movement --go as soon as you feel this urge


  • Over-the-counter creams, ointments, suppositories or pads which usually contain a topical anti-inflammatory agent or witch hazel
  • Sitting and soaking several times a day in a warm bath
  • For persistent and painful hemorrhoids: banding, sclerotherapy or surgery are options

How We Can Help

  • If you would like to be seen by our medical staff, please contact our Appointment Desk to schedule an appointment.
  • Also, our Advice Nurse service is available at no charge for all UC Davis students to discuss health concerns and the need for medical care.