DEAR DR. ROACH: Any suggestions for hemorrhoids? D.K.
ANSWER: Hemorrhoids are normal veins located in the lower rectum. They are only a problem when they get dilated. Internal hemorrhoidal veins have no pain fibers and are therefore painless, but external hemorrhoids have lots of pain receptors and can be exquisitely painful in some circumstances, such as when a blood clot forms.
At any given time, about 5% of the population has symptomatic hemorrhoids, and they are most often seen in people in their 60s and 70s. Men and women are equally affected.