Hemorrhoids, also called piles, are swollen and inflamed veins in anal canal. This common problem can be painful, but it’s usually not serious. Veins can swell inside the anal canal to form internal hemorrhoids. Or they can swell near the opening of the anus to form external hemorrhoids. You can have both types at the same time. The symptoms and treatment depend on which type you have.
Normally, tissue inside the anus fills with blood to help control bowel movements. If you strain or sit on the toilet a long time to move stool, the increased pressure causes the veins in this tissue to swell and stretch. This can cause hemorrhoids. Diarrhea or constipation also may lead to straining and can increase pressure on veins in the anal canal. Pregnant women can get hemorrhoids during the last 6 months of pregnancy. This is because of increased pressure on the blood vessels in the pelvic area. Straining to push the baby out during labor can make hemorrhoids worse. Being overweight can also lead to hemorrhoids.
Signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids may include:
- Painless bleeding during bowel movements — you might notice small amounts of bright red blood on your toilet
- tissue or in the toilet bowl
- Itching or irritation in your anal region
- Pain or discomfort
- Swelling around your anus
- A lump near your anus, which may be sensitive or painful
- Leakage of feces
Hemorrhoid symptoms usually depend on the location. Internal hemorrhoids lie inside the rectum. You usually can’t see or feel these hemorrhoids, and they usually don’t cause discomfort.
Internal hemorrhoids often are small, swollen veins in the wall of the anal canal. But they can be large, sagging veins that bulge out of the anus all the time. They can be painful if they bulge out and are squeezed by the anal muscles. They may be very painful if the blood supply to the hemorrhoid is cut off.
External hemorrhoids can get irritated and clot under the skin, causing a hard painful lump. This is called a thrombosed, or clotted, hemorrhoid.