Hemorrhoids

What are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids, or piles, are swollen blood vessels that are found inside or around the anus. They develop over time and they are caused by an increased pressure on these blood vessels. Common causes for this condition include pregnancy or constipation. Symptoms include itching of the anus, bright red blood or mucus discharge after passing stool. Many effective treatment options are available. Hemorrhoids often cause recurrent symptoms.

Risks

Hemorrhoids occur when there is increased pressure on the blood vessels around the anus. This may be result of something pushing down on the bowel, such as during pregnancy, or can occur through repeated straining when opening the bowels due to persistent constipation or diarrhea. This is a common condition and become more common with age. People who are overweight or obese may be slightly more likely to develop hemorrhoids.

Symptoms

The symptoms of hemorrhoids include pain or discomfort, itching and irritation around the anus. Some people have discomfort when opening the bowels, and can find bright red blood on the toilet paper after wiping. Sometimes the blood vessels may protrude from the anus and a small lump can be felt coming from the anus.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis is usually made by a doctor based on the symptoms and by examination of the anus. Examination of the anus involves looking at the area and gently feeling the inside of the anus with a finger. If the hemorrhoids are not easily visible, or the cause of the bleeding isn't clear, further investigation may be done to exclude other causes for the symptoms.

Treatment

There are many methods to treat hemorrhoids. The most important is to keep stool soft and avoid constipation, in order to avoid making the hemorrhoids worse. Creams and suppositories which may relieve swelling and discomfort are available in the pharmacy without a prescription. There several treatments which use injections or bands to shrink the blood vessels. Hemorrhoids can also be surgically removed.

Prevention

Keeping the stool soft is helpful in preventing hemorrhoids and reducing the frequency of symptoms. This can be done by eating a high-fiber diet, taking regular exercise and drinking plenty of water. Long periods of sitting may increase the pressure on the blood vessels in the anus and should also be avoided.

other names for hemorrhoids

  • piles
  • external hemorrhoid
  • internal hemorrhoid
  • piles