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DISEASES

Haemorrhoids (Piles)
 
 

Hemorrhoids are clumps of dilated (enlarged) blood vessels in the anus and lower rectum. The rectum is the last area of the large intestine before it exits to the anus. The anus is the end of the digestive tract where feces leaves the body.

Sometimes hemorrhoids swell when the veins enlarge and their walls become stretched, thin, and irritated by passing stool. Hemorrhoids are classified into two general categories:

  • internal, originating in the rectum, and
  • external, originating in the anus.

Hemorrhoids (also termed piles) have caused pain and irritation throughout human history. The word comes from Greek, “haimorrhoides,” meaning veins that are liable to discharge blood. If you've had a bout of hemorrhoid pain, you're not alone. It's estimated that three out of every four people will have hemorrhoids at some point in their lives. Even Napoleon suffered from hemorrhoids, which distracted him with severe pain during his defeat at Waterloo.

Enlarged Hemorrhoid Symptoms

Enlarged hemorrhoids are associated with symptoms such as

  • itching,
  • mucus discharge,
  • burning at the anus,
  • severe pain,
  • a sensation that the bowel is not really empty, and
  • bleeding without pain.

In this article, our medical experts will explain where hemorrhoid pain comes from, what hemorrhoids feel like, and how they are diagnosed. Then you will discover the various treatments for hemorrhoids both at home and at hospital, along with the positive attributes and drawbacks of each hemorrhoid treatment.

Internal Hemorrhoids

Internal hemorrhoids sit in the inside lining of the rectum and are not obvious unless they are substantially enlarged, in which case they can be felt. Internal hemorrhoids are usually painless and become apparent because they cause bleeding with a bowel movement.

Sometimes internal hemorrhoids prolapse or protrude outside the anus. If so, you may be able to see or feel them as moist pads of skin that are pinker than the surrounding area. Prolapsed hemorrhoids may hurt because the anus is dense with pain-sensing nerves. Prolapsed hemorrhoids usually recede into the rectum on their own. If they don't, they can be gently pushed back into place.

External Hemorrhoids

An illustration showing an internal prolapsed hemorrhoid and an external hemorrhoid underneath the skin that surrounds the anus.

External hemorrhoids are located underneath the skin that surrounds the anus, and are lower than internal hemorrhoids. They can be felt when they swell, and may cause

  • itching,
  • pain, or
  • bleeding with a bowel movement.

If an external hemorrhoid prolapses to the outside (usually in the course of passing a stool), you can see and feel it.

Blood clots sometimes form within prolapsed external hemorrhoids, which can cause an extremely painful condition called a thrombosis. If an external hemorrhoid becomes thrombosed, it can look rather frightening, turning purple or blue, and could possibly bleed.

Despite their appearance, thrombosed hemorrhoids usually are not serious, though they can be very painful. They will resolve on their own in a couple of weeks. If the pain is unbearable, your doctor can remove the blood clot from the thrombosed hemorrhoid, which stops the pain.