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Hemorrhoids

Facts about hemorrhoids

  • Hemorrhoids are enlarged and swollen blood vessels located in the lower part of the rectum and the anus. The blood vessels become swollen due to increased pressure within them.
  • Hemorrhoids usually are caused by increased pressure within the lower abdomen. Some potential causes include
  • straining at the time of bowel movement (this may be due to constipation or profuse diarrhea),
  • Internal hemorrhoids are located on the inside lining of the rectum and cannot be felt unless they prolapse and push through the anus opening causing pain and itching.
  • External hemorrhoids are located beneath the skin on the outer aspect of the anus. Symptoms may include bleeding with a bowel movement and a mass or fullness that can be felt at the anal opening.
  • A thrombosed external hemorrhoid occurs when blood within the blood vessel clots, and may cause significant pain and swelling.
  • External and internal hemorrhoids are diagnosed by a physical exam and history by a health-care professional. Sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy may be ordered to look for other causes of blood in the stool.
  • Several treatments are available for hemorrhoids, and include home remedies, for example, over-the-counter (OTC) medicine like stool softeners and creams or suppositories to shrink and decrease inflammation of the hemorrhoid tissue); changes in the diet; Sitz baths; exercise; or surgery.
  • Hemorrhoids can be prevented by keeping the stools soft, by regular exercise, eating a high fiber diet, drinking plenty of fluids; avoiding straining with bowel movements, and trying to avoid sitting for long periods of time, especially on the toilet.

How do you know if you have a hemorrhoid?

The most common signs and symptom is painless bleeding. There may be bright red blood on the outside of the stools, on the toilet paper, or dripping into the toilet. The bleeding usually is self-limiting.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/6/2016
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Hemorrhoids:

Hemorrhoids - Surgery

Did you need surgery for your hemorrhoids? Please describe the experience.

Hemorrhoids - Causes

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Hemorrhoids - Symptoms

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Hemorrhoids - Effective Treatments

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Common Causes of Rectal Pain

The four common causes of the symptom of rectal pain, pressure, or discomfort are

  • hemorrhoids,
  • anal fissures,
  • fleeting anal spasms (Proctalgia fugax), and
  • other more constant muscle spasms (Levator ani syndrome).

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Hemorrhoids »

Hemorrhoids have plagued humankind since time immemorial, yet many misunderstandings regarding hemorrhoidal complaints and disease still exist.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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