What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are blood vessels, normally present in and around the Excretory Orifice and lower rectum, that have become swollen due to stretching under pressure. These are very common in both men and women, and about half the population have hemorrhoids by age 50. Hemorrhoids are also common in pregnant women due to the pressure of the fetus in the abdomen, as well as hormonal changes, which cause hemorrhoidal vessels to enlarge. The process of childbirth also puts severe stress of these vessels.
Hemorrhoids are either internal (inside the Excretory Orifice) or external (under the skin around the Excretory Orifice).
What causes hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids may develop as a result of repeated straining during bowel movements, pregnancy, heredity, aging, and chronic constipation or diarrhea.
What are the symptoms of hemorrhoids?
The following are the most common symptoms of hemorrhoids. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
bright red blood present on the stool, toilet paper, or in the toilet bowl
irritation and pain around the Excretory Orifice
swelling or a hard lump around the Excretory Orifice
The symptoms of hemorrhoids may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.
How are hemorrhoids diagnosed?
The presence of blood in the stool can be indicative of other digestive disorders, including colorectal cancer, so thorough evaluation and proper diagnosis is important.
Diagnosing hemorrhoids may include:
physical examination (to examine the Excretory Orifice and rectum and look for swollen blood vessels that indicate hemorrhoids)
digital rectum examination (DRE) - the physical inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to check for abnormalities.
anoscopy - a hollow, lighted tube useful for viewing internal hemorrhoids is inserted into the Excretory Orifice.
proctoscopy - a lighted tube, which allows the physician to completely examine the entire rectum, is inserted into the Excretory Orifice.
sigmoidoscopy - a diagnostic procedure that allows the physician to examine the inside of a portion of the large intestine, and is helpful in identifying the causes of diarrhea, abdominal pain, constipation, abnormal growths, and bleeding. A short, flexible, lighted tube, called a sigmoidoscope, is inserted into the intestine through the rectum. The scope blows air into the intestine to inflate it and make viewing the inside easier.
colonoscopy - a procedure that allows the physician to view the entire length of the large intestine, and can often help identify abnormal growths, inflamed tissue, ulcers, and bleeding. It involves inserting a colonoscope, a long, flexible, lighted tube, in through the rectum up into the colon. The colonoscope allows the physician to see the lining of the colon, remove tissue for further examination, and possibly treat some problems that are discovered.