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What are Haemorrhoids?

Haemorrhoids can be described as painful, swollen veins in a lower part of the anus or rectum. They become piles or pathological haemorrhoids when swollen or inflamed.

Symptoms of pathological haemorrhoids depend on the present type. External haemorrhoids present swelling and pain around the anus while internal haemorrhoids often present with painless rectal bleeding. Many people do however incorrectly think that any symptom that occurs around the anal-rectal area is a “haemorrhoid”.

Prevalence of Haemorrhoids

Haemorrhoids can occur in each and every person and can become large and cause further complications. Men and women have equal problems that are caused by haemorrhoids with the condition usually peaking between the ages of 45 and 65 years.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Hemorrhoids?

There are 2 types of nerves in the anal canal; the somatic nerves (which are below the dentate line) and visceral nerves (which are located above the dentate line). The somatic nerves are more like the nerves of the skin and are capable of sensing pain. The visceral nerves are like the nerves of the intestine; they do not sense any pain but sense only pleasure. This means that internal haemorrhoids that are above the dentate are usually painless.

Symptoms of haemorrhoids include:

  • Anal ache or anal pain felt more when sitting
  • Anal itching
  • General discomfort
  • Bright red blood present in one’s stool or around the toilet bowl
  • One or more hard lumps formed near the anus

Haemorrhoid symptoms often depend on their location. A person cannot see or feel the internal haemorrhoids as they usually do not cause discomfort. Irritation or straining when passing a stool can damage a haemorrhoid surface and can cause it to bleed.

Causes of Haemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are often associated with constipation and straining during bowel movements. One other factor the may cause haemorrhoids is pregnancy. Such conditions lead to an increased pressure in the haemorrhoidal veins causing these to swell. Tumours that are in the pelvis are also a cause of enlarged haemorrhoids as these press on veins draining upwards from the anal canal. Other conditions such as chronic liver disease can also cause an increase in venous pressure and can be associated with haemorrhoid formation.

One study shows that patients who have haemorrhoids tend to have a high resting anal canal tone. Constipation adds to these troubles, as straining during an intestine movement increases pressure in the anal canal and forces the haemorrhoids against the sphincter muscle.

Haemorrhoids may be caused by:

  • Constipation
  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Certain disease like liver cirrhosis
  • An anal infection
  • Sitting for prolonged period

Hemorrhoids can be either inside or outside the body.

  • Internal haemorrhoids occur inside the anus at the beginning of the rectum.
  • External haemorrhoids occur on the anal opening and can hang outside the anus.


The blood in the swollen vein can form clots casusing surrounding tissues to die. Surgery is usually needed in order to remove hemorrhoids with clots. Severe bleeding can also occur. Significant bleeding from hemorrhoids is unusual.

Treatment for Haemorrhoids

Haemorrhoids symptoms can be alleviated immensely with home measures. Treatments include:

  • Creams with lidocaine can help reduce the pain
  • Over the counter corticosteroid creams in order to help reduce swelling and pain
  • Stool softeners help reduce constipation and staining

Witch hazel can help reduce itching. Some steps to reduce the itching include:

  • Try not to scratch the area
  • Wear cotton undergarments
  • Avoid toilet tissue with colours and perfumes











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