Hemorrhoids

(Piles)

Definition

Hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in and around the anus and lower rectum. They stretch under pressure and are similar to varicose veins in the legs. Hemorrhoids are either internal or external.
  • Internal hemorrhoids develop inside the anus. They are painless and sometimes bleed a lot during bowel movements. They may also protrude during bowel movements. If they protrude from the anal opening and cannot be pushed back, they can cause severe pain.
  • External hemorrhoids develop under the skin around the anus and can easily be felt or seen as a lump. They bleed when broken by straining, rubbing, or scratching.
Hemorrhoids
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Causes

The exact cause of hemorrhoids is unknown. The major contributing factor appears to be too much pressure on the veins in the rectum. If the pressure continues, the veins become enlarged and protrude.

Risk Factors

Hemorrhoids are more common in older adults. Factors that increase your risk of getting hemorrhoids include:
  • Straining when trying to pass a stool
  • Chronic constipation or diarrhea
  • Sitting on the toilet for long periods of time
  • Pressure on the veins from pregnancy and childbirth
  • Obesity
  • Family members with hemorrhoids
  • Chronic cough
  • Liver disease
  • Chronic use of enemas or laxatives

Symptoms

In most cases, symptoms will go away within several days. Although many people have hemorrhoids, not all experience symptoms.Common symptoms include:
  • Bleeding from the anus that may appear:
    • On the stool
    • On the toilet paper
    • In the toilet bowl
  • Anal itching and burning
  • Swelling and pain during bowel movements
  • Sensitive lumps of various sizes around the anus
Bleeding from the rectum or blood in the stool can be a symptom of other diseases involving gastrointestinal tract or colon/rectal cancer. It is important to see a doctor if you have any rectal bleeding.

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