Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swollen and enlarged veins that can occur inside or outside the anus and rectum. They are similar to varicose veins and can cause discomfort, pain, and rectal bleeding. The exact cause of hemorrhoids is often unknown, although there are several factors that can contribute to their development.
There are different types of hemorrhoids based on their location:
- External hemorrhoids: These develop underneath the skin around the anus. They can be itchy, painful, and may occasionally bleed. Blood clots can also form within these hemorrhoids, resulting in pain and swelling.
- Internal hemorrhoids: These form inside the rectum, the part of the digestive system that connects the colon to the anus. Internal hemorrhoids may bleed, but they are typically not painful.
- Prolapsed hemorrhoids: Both internal and external hemorrhoids can prolapse, meaning they stretch and bulge outside of the anus. Prolapsed hemorrhoids can cause bleeding and pain.
Fortunately, there are effective treatment options available for hemorrhoids. Many people find relief through home treatments and making lifestyle changes.
The signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids can vary depending on the type of hemorrhoid:
External hemorrhoids are located beneath the skin surrounding the anus. They can cause the following signs and symptoms:
- Itching or irritation: You may experience itching or discomfort in the anal region due to external hemorrhoids.
- Pain or discomfort: External hemorrhoids can be painful, causing discomfort or aching sensations.
- Swelling: The area around the anus may become swollen due to external hemorrhoids.
- Bleeding: External hemorrhoids can also lead to bleeding, typically observed as small amounts of bright red blood.
Internal hemorrhoids: These are located inside the rectum and are typically not visible or noticeable. They usually do not cause any discomfort, but they can become problematic if you strain during bowel movements, leading to the following symptoms:
- Bleeding: You may experience painless bleeding during bowel movements. This can be observed as small amounts of bright red blood on toilet tissue or in the toilet bowl.
- Prolapsed or protruding hemorrhoids: Straining can cause a hemorrhoid to protrude through the anal opening. This can result in pain and irritation.
Thrombosed hemorrhoids: Blood may build up in an external hemorrhoid and clot (thrombus), which can cause:
- Severe pain
- Swelling or inflammation
- Hard lump near the anus
It is important to seek medical attention under the following circumstances:
- If the patient experiences bleeding during bowel movements or if their hemorrhoids do not improve after a week of at-home care.
- If there is severe rectal bleeding or if the patient experiences symptoms such as lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting.
- If their are changes in the bowel habits or in the color or consistency of the feces, patient shouldn’t automatically assume that rectal bleeding is the result of hemorrhoids. Other conditions, such as colorectal and anal cancer, can cause rectal bleeding.
Hemorrhoids occur when veins in the anus or rectum are strained and put under pressure. They can be likened to varicose veins affecting the lower region of your body.
Increased pressure on the abdomen or lower extremities, resulting from various forms of straining, can lead to swollen and inflamed anal and rectal veins, leading to the development of hemorrhoids. Factors that contribute to hemorrhoid formation include:
- Straining during bowel movements
- Prolonged sitting on the toilet
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation
- Engaging in anal intercourse
- Following a low-fiber diet
- Regularly lifting heavy objects
Hemorrhoid symptoms can potentially affect individuals of any age, including teenagers, although it is rare for children to develop hemorrhoids due to the time it takes for them to form. However, certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of developing hemorrhoids. The risk increase if the patient has any of the following:
- Age: The chance of developing hemorrhoids increases with age. This is due to the fact that the tissues in the rectum and anus that support the veins may weaken and stretch out.
- Pregnancy: Because of the strain the growing baby puts on the anal region, this is also possible during pregnancy.
- Bowel movement: People who consume low fiber diet may strain during bowel movement cause by constipation.
- Lifting: Lifting heavy weights regularly put strain at the anal region that may cause this condition.