What Are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids, also called piles, are swollen and inflamed veins around your anus or in your lower rectum.
The two types of hemorrhoids are:
External hemorrhoids, which form under the skin around the anus.
Internal hemorrhoids, which form in the lining of the anus and lower rectum.
How Common Are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are common in both men and women and affect about 1 in 20 Americans. About half of adults older than age 50 have hemorrhoids.
Who Is More Likely to Get Hemorrhoids?
You are more likely to get hemorrhoids if you:
- Strain during bowel movements
- Sit on the toilet for long periods of time
- Gave chronic constipation or diarrhea
- Eat foods that are low in fiber
- Are older than age 50
- Are pregnant
- Often lift heavy objects
What Are the Complications of Hemorrhoids?
Complications of hemorrhoids can include the following:
- Blood clots in an external hemorrhoid
- Skin tags: extra skin left behind when a blood clot in an external hemorrhoid dissolves
- Infection of a sore on an external hemorrhoid
- Strangulated hemorrhoid—when the muscles around your anus cut off the blood supply to an internal
- Hemorrhoid that has fallen through your anal opening
What Are the Symptoms of Hemorrhoids?
The symptoms of hemorrhoids depend on the type you have.
If you have external hemorrhoids, you may have:
- Anal itching
- One or more hard, tender lumps near your anus
- Anal ache or pain, especially when sitting
- Too much straining, rubbing, or cleaning around your anus may make your symptoms worse. For many people, the symptoms of external hemorrhoids go away within a few days
- If you have internal hemorrhoids, you may have
- Bleeding from your rectum––bright red blood on stool, on toilet paper, or in the toilet bowl after a bowel movement
- A hemorrhoid that has fallen through your anal opening, called prolapse
- Internal hemorrhoids that are not prolapsed most often are not painful. Prolapsed internal hemorrhoids may cause pain and discomfort
Although hemorrhoids are the most common cause of anal symptoms, not every anal symptom is caused by hemorrhoids. Some hemorrhoid symptoms are similar to those of other digestive tract problems. For example, bleeding from your rectum may be a sign of bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or cancer of the colon or rectum.
When Should I Seek a Doctor’s Help?
You should seek a doctor’s help if you:
- Still have symptoms after 1 week of at-home treatment
- Have bleeding from your rectum
What Causes Hemorrhoids?
The causes of hemorrhoids include:
- Straining during bowel movements
- Sitting on the toilet for long periods of time
- Chronic constipation or diarrhea
- A low-fiber diet
- Weakening of the supporting tissues in your anus and rectum that happens with aging
- Often lifting heavy objects