While hemorrhoids are uncommon during childhood, a small number or children, mostly adolescents and teens, do develop one or more. Hemorrhoids, also called piles, are swollen veins around the anus that can develop for a number of reasons. If your child is complaining of pain or itching around the anal area, make an appointment with his pediatrician to determine whether hemorrhoids are responsible for his condition.
Definition, Prevalence and Symptoms
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins around the anus, and they can occur externally or internally. Though uncommon during childhood, it is possible for a child to develop hemorrhoids, and it's more likely the older a child gets. In small children, you might notice a line of blood down one side of your child's stool or on the toilet paper if you help your child wipe. You might also notice a lump or bump around your child's anus. Because parents don't help older children use the restroom, your child might complain that her backside itches or hurts or might tell you that she was bleeding when she had a bowel movement. Any of these symptoms warrant a call to your child's pediatrician.
Straining and Constipation
Constipation and straining to pass a bowel movement are among the most common reasons why a child might develop hemorrhoids. If your child is constipated or has to strain to pass a bowel movement, it puts pressure on the veins around his anus, which can cause them to swell up or bulge, according to MayoClinic.com. If your child sits for a long time on the toilet trying to pass a bowel movement, the pressure from sitting can also cause hemorrhoids to develop.
Numerous health problems can cause a child to develop hemorrhoids. If your child is obese, she's more likely to develop hemorrhoids from the pressure of the excess weight. Children with chronic diarrhea, which can be caused by a number of health problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, can also develop hemorrhoids. Portal hypertension is another cause of hemorrhoids in children. According to the Cleveland Clinic, portal hypertension is an increase in pressure in the vein that transports blood from the digestive system to the liver. If your child has portal hypertension, follow his doctor's treatment regimen exactly to manage symptoms, but also to decrease the risk of hemorrhoids.
Most adults can manage their hemorrhoids on their own at home, but if you suspect that your child has external or internal hemorrhoids, make an appointment with his pediatrician right away. Because hemorrhoids aren't common in children, it's essential for his doctor to determine what is causing them so it can be treated. His pediatrician will also recommend lifestyle changes to help ease your child's discomfort and reduce the risk of future hemorrhoids. These might include medications or over-the-counter ointments that ease pain and tenderness, but can include surgical removal in more severe cases.