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Hemorrhoids (sometimes called 'piles') are small lumps of tissue composed of blood vessels, muscle, and elastic fibers. Hemorrhoids are always present in the anal canal, just past the anus. It is only when they become inflamed and enlarged that they cause problems.
Hemorrhoids are not choosy when they pick their victims. Men and women are equally affected, though those between the ages of 40 and 60 seem to have a higher rate of hemorrhoids, as well as pregnant women.
Hemorrhoids are not inherently dangerous unless they bleed continually. Their location means that they are fed by arterial blood, so those who have a hard time clotting or have a lowered immune system may consider hemorrhoids a more serious problems than others. Caused by poor diet and straining to pass bowel movements when constipated, hemorrhoids are easier to prevent than they are to treat.
Prevention is as simple as eating right. Leafy green vegetables, beets, apples, whole grains and other foods high in fiber are a great start. Fiber is the greatest defense against constipation. Herbal supplements like psyllium seed help as well, if your diet is poor. Start with small doses, though, and work your way up. Adding prune juice to your diet is helpful as well.
Drinking plenty of liquids that are non-caffeinated will also help constipation fade quickly if hemorrhoids do appear, keeping the inflammation to a minimum. Simple things like keeping the area clean and wiping gently with non-perfumed, non-colored toilet paper will help the hemorrhoids heal more quickly.
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