(ABC News) -- Google's annual roundup of the year's top search trends revealed that people took to the internet to learn more about Whitney Houston, Hurricane Sandy and Big Bird, but an unlikely pain in the butt joined the group, too: hemorrhoids.
The top trending health issue in the United States this year was "hemorrhoids," according to Google's annual "zeitgeist" roundup of the world's hottest search trends, and doctors say it may be because patients would rather ask Google than their physicians.
"I'm not exactly surprised that it is something people would rather Google as opposed to discuss it with their doctors," said Dr. Patrick Okolo, chief of endoscopy at Johns Hopkins Hospital. "Even though it is very common and affects anywhere from 14 to 20 million Americans, most people do not discuss it with their doctors for those reasons."
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus or lower rectum, caused by any condition that could impede the flow of blood back to the heart and lungs. Pregnancy, straining or having a difficult time in the bathroom are among the causes of hemorrhoids.
Google zeitgeist spokeswoman Roya Soleimani said it's not clear why hemorrhoids shot to the top of the list this year, but its spot on the trends list (instead of the most searched list) means that its popularity is unique to 2012.
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