What is Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids, also called piles, are swollen veins in your anus and lower rectum, similar to varicose veins. Hemorrhoids have a number of causes, although often the cause is unknown. They may result from straining during bowel movements or from the increased pressure on these veins during pregnancy. Hemorrhoids may be located inside the rectum (internal hemorrhoids), or they may develop under the skin around the anus (external hemorrhoids). Hemorrhoids are very common. Nearly three out of four adults will have hemorrhoids from time to time. Sometimes they don't cause symptoms but at other times they cause itching, discomfort and bleeding.
What are the Symptoms of Hemorrhoids?
Symptoms of hemorrhoids include:
- extreme itching around the anus
- irritation and pain around the anus
- itchy or painful lump or swelling near your anus
- fecal leakage
- painful bowel movements
- blood on your tissue after having a bowel movement
Although hemorrhoids are painful, they aren’t life-threatening and often go away on their own without treatment. If you have them often, you may develop symptoms of anemia, such as weakness and pale skin due to blood loss, though this is rare.
What Causes Hemorrhoids?
Experts aren’t sure what causes hemorrhoids to develop. Possible factors include:
- straining during a bowel movement
- complications from chronic constipation
- sitting for a long period of time, especially on the toilet
- a family history of hemorrhoids
Risk Factors associated with Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids can be passed on genetically from parent to child, so if your parents had hemorrhoids, you’re more likely to get them. Consistent heavy lifting, being obese, or having other constant strain on your body can increase your risk of hemorrhoids.Also standing too much without taking a break to sit can cause hemorrhoids to develop. And consistent diarrhea can also increase your risk of hemorrhoids.You’re also more likely to develop hemorrhoids if you’re pregnant. When the uterus enlarges, it presses on the vein in the colon, causing it to bulge.
How are hemorrhoids diagnosed?
A visual examination of your anus may be enough to diagnose hemorrhoids. To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor may do a different examination to check for any abnormalities within the anus. This check is known as a digital rectal exam. During this exam, your doctor inserts a gloved and lubricated finger into your rectum. If they feel anything abnormal, they may order an additional test called a sigmoidoscopy.A sigmoidoscopy involves your doctor using a small camera to diagnose an internal hemorrhoid. This small fiber-optic camera, called a sigmoidoscope, fits into a small tube and then inserts into your rectum. From this test, your doctor gets a clear view of the inside of your rectum so that they can examine the hemorrhoid up close.
Fortunately, many effective options are available to treat hemorrhoids. Many people can get relief from symptoms with home treatments and lifestyle changes. Consult with your physician before making any drastic lifestyle changes. He or she may refer you to another specialist for more advanced treatment. Make sure to recognize the symptoms on time and help yourself in the best possible way!