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External hemorrhoids more commonly cause symptoms of pain and itching when irritated. Internal hemorrhoids generally are painless but can cause bleeding. "They can cause bright red rectal bleeding, but if you have bleeding, don't assume it's hemorrhoids," says Patricia Raymond, MD, of Chesapeake, Va. Colorectal cancer can also cause rectal bleeding, so you need to see your doctor to rule out cancer or other serious causes of rectal bleeding.
Sometimes internal hemorrhoids can protrude outside of the anus. Protruding (or prolapsed) hemorrhoids can become painful if irritated.
Other hemorrhoid symptoms include mucus drainage. A blood clot that forms within a hemorrhoid, called a thrombosed hemorrhoid, can be extremely painful.
WebMD talked to experts about the best ways to prevent and treat hemorrhoids.
Your best strategy to prevent constipation -- and the hemorrhoids that come with it -- is through lifestyle changes that include adding more fiber to your diet, drinking plenty of water, and exercise.
Raymond recommends adding fiber to your diet, but not until things are moving again. "If you add fiber to someone already constipated, all you'll get is constipation with more fiber. First the stool needs to be made soft. Prunes have a natural laxative. Some people just need a stool softener like Colace."
After that is taken care of, Linda White, RD, clinical dietitian for the Nutrition Counseling Center at the University of California/San Francisco, recommends increasing fiber intake gradually, along with fluid intake.
"If you increase fiber without increasing fluid, you'll have bloating and gas," says White.