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Hemorrhoids
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Hemorrhoids - piles

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DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Diseases & Conditions  

Hemorrhoids, often called piles, are clusters of veins in the anus, just under the membrane that lines the lowest part of the rectum and anus. They occur when veins in your rectum enlarge from straining or pressure.

Hemorrhoids have plagued humankind since time immemorial, yet many misunderstandings regarding hemorrhoidal complaints and disease still exist. Many laypersons and physicians do not understand the anorectal area and the common diseases associated with it.

A sometimes embarrassing topic of discussion, hemorrhoids are common. By age 50, about half of adults deal with the itching, burning, bleeding and pain that often signal the presence of this condition.

Fortunately, effective medications and procedures are readily available to treat hemorrhoids. In many cases the condition may require only self-care and lifestyle changes.

Signs and symptoms

Signs and symptoms usually depend on the location of the hemorrhoids:

  • Internal hemorrhoids. You can't see or feel these hemorrhoids. But straining or irritation from passing stool can injure a hemorrhoid's delicate surface and cause it to bleed. You may notice small amounts of bright red blood on your toilet tissue or in the toilet bowl. Because internal membranes lack pain sensitive nerve fibers, these hemorrhoids usually don't cause discomfort. However, you may experience a feeling of fullness in your rectum following a bowel movement. Occasionally, straining can push an internal hemorrhoid through the anal opening. If a hemorrhoid remains displaced (prolapsed), it can cause a constant, dull ache. When irritated, it can itch or bleed.

  • External hemorrhoids. These hemorrhoids tend to be painful. Sometimes blood may pool in an external hemorrhoid and form a clot (thrombus), causing severe pain and inflammation. When irritated, external hemorrhoids can itch or bleed.

Causes

Hemorrhoids can develop from any increase in pressure in the veins in the lower rectum. Common sources of pressure include:

  • Constipation and the accompanying extra straining

  • Diarrhea and the abrupt expulsion of diarrhea stools

  • Sitting or standing for a long time

  • Obesity

  • Heavy lifting

  • Pregnancy and childbirth

It's also possible to inherit a tendency to develop hemorrhoids.

Hemorrhoids > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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