(10/18/13) - No one wants to talk about it, but maybe we should - turns out, what you don't know about hemorrhoids could have serious health consequences.
Fifty percent of Americans will suffer hemorrhoids by age 50.
Dan Collins has been there, "I found this lump. So, I ran off to my doctor and he said, 'oh you got a hemorrhoid.'"
Hemorrhoids affect about 10 million Americans at any given time, but Dr. Sergey Kantsevoy says most have no idea hemorrhoids could kill you, "hemorrhoids by itself can cause significant blood loss. It's life threatening if you're losing a lot of blood."
Chronic blood loss can lead to anemia, or worse, Kantsevoy says, "if they are bleeding from hemorrhoids, this can provoke heart attack in people with bad coronary arteries."
He says there are other things to be aware of, "I think it's very important that people don't attribute all rectal bleeding to hemorrhoids."
The bleeding could be a sign of colorectal cancer, or a digestive disorder, something Dan is monitoring, "I have an uncle that died of colon cancer, um, and it's a family history for me."
He is also implementing prevention strategies, like eating foods high in fiber and staying active. Swelling and itching can be reduced by ointments and less straining.
Dr. Kantsevoy says you also should not turn bathroom time into downtime, "So, all reading materials should be eliminated from the bathroom. Bathroom is not library."
Being sedentary can actually be just as big of a risk factor as lifting heavy weights, because both can put undue pressure on your lower body.
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