What everyone needs to know about hemorrhoids

Expert explains why the condition can be deadly


BALTIMORE, Md. – Dan Collins found his calling with Community Theater.

"Being on the stage and acting gives me the opportunity to shine some of my own light. This is my creative expression," he said.

However, offstage, Collins Dan is shining the spotlight on a personal problem.

"I found this lump. So, I ran off to my doctor and he said, ‘oh you got a hemorrhoid,'" Collins explained.

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 is life threatening, if you're losing a lot of blood," said Sergey Kantsevoy, MD, PhD, Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Director of Therapeutic Endoscopy, Institute of Digestive Health and Liver Disease, at Mercy Medical Center.

Chronic blood loss can lead to anemia, or worse.

"If they are bleeding from hemorrhoids, this can provoke heart attack in people with bad coronary arteries," Kantsevoy said.  "Also, 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.  So, it's in my family history," Collins said.

He's also implementing prevention strategies, like eating foods high in fiber and staying active. Swelling and itching can be reduced by ointments, less straining, and not turning bathroom time into downtime.

"So, all reading materials should be eliminated from the bathroom. Bathroom is not library," Kantsevoy explained.

Advice Collins is following in his daily life.

It's interesting to note that being sedentary can be just as big of a risk factor as working out by lifting heavy weights. Both can put undue pressure on your bottom half, causing hemorrhoids to grow larger.