Hemorrhoids are swollen and inflamed veins in the anus and lower rectum. Hemorrhoids can be found inside and outside of the body. Internal hemorrhoids can be found inside the anus and the beginning of the rectum. They are often small, swollen veins in the wall of the anus, but they can bulge out. External hemorrhoids can feel like bulges at the anal opening, and may hang outside of the anus. When irritated, they can itch or bleed. Sometimes blood forms clots (thrombosis) in the hemorrhoid causing severe pain, swelling and inflammation.
Causes of Hemorrhoids in Children
There are many things that can cause hemorrhoids in children. Examples include:
- Sitting on a hard surface. Children often sit for long periods of time on hard wooden stools.
- Sitting on the toilet for a long time.
- Straining when passing stool usually due to constipation and digestive problems.
Hemorrhoids often develop from diarrhea, constipation, infection, and a variety of other causes. Common symptoms include bleeding from the rectum, anal itching, general discomfort, and an external anal protrusion.
One of the most common symptoms of hemorrhoids in children is bleeding from the rectum. This is often caused by a rupture of the blood vessels in or around the anal canal, and the blood is often bright red typically during bowel movements. Rectal bleeding at other times may indicate a more serious problem, and should be examined by a medical professional like a pediatric gastroenterologist as soon as possible.
Anal itching is another common symptom. Hemorrhoids often secrete mucus that moistens the anus and surrounding tissue. This mucus, combined with stool from the bowel movements, often create a chronic itch that children typically have a hard time ignoring.
General discomfort is a classic symptom. Typically, the pain and discomfort comes from sitting for long periods, or during bowel movements. Children often shy away from going to the bathroom to avoid the pain.
A large lump or mass that occurs near the opening of the anal canal is another symptom. External hemorrhoids must be treat as well as the internal hemorrhoid.
The doctor can either see any hemorrhoids, or do an internal anal and rectum exam. Because internal hemorrhoids are often too soft to feel, an anoscope, proctoscope or sigmoidoscope may be used that allows the doctor to see into the anus and rectum. If a more extensive exam of the entire colon is needed, a colonoscopy may be recommended if the signs and symptoms suggest a digestive system disease, there are risk factors for colorectal cancer, or recommended for people over the age of 50.
Most of the time, treatment for hemorrhoids can be done at home and include:
- Over the counter corticosteroid creams
- Hemorrhoid creams with lidocaine to help reduce pain
- Witch hazel
- Wearing cotton underwear
- Avoid toilet tissue with perfumes or colors
- Sitz baths
Constipation and straining during bowel movements raise your risk for hemorrhoids. To prevent constipation and hemorrhoids:
Use stool softeners to prevent straining
Monitor toilet training.
Children need to play outside and get plenty of fresh air.
For bleeding and pain that doesn’t stop, a minimally invasive procedure may be necessary.