What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoid tissues are a network of blood vessels located near the anal canal that play an important role during bowel movements. When you have a bowel movement, these blood vessels swell and enlarge to cushion the anal canal as your body eliminates waste. After the bowel movement, the hemorrhoid tissues stop swelling and return to their normal size.
Hemorrhoids can remain swollen or inflamed if there is too much pressure on the anal canal. This can cause discomfort and pain.
Symptoms of swollen hemorrhoids include:
- Itching around the anus
- Bleeding during bowel movement
- Paining or a burning sensation
- Protrusion of tissue from the anus
The increase in pressure on the anal canal is often caused by chronic constipation, straining during bowel movements, diarrhea, strenuous exercising or heavy lifting, aging, or pregnancy and childbirth.
Swelling of the hemorrhoids can occur both inside and outside the anal canal. When hemorrhoids remain swollen inside the anal canal, they are called internal hemorrhoids. And when swollen hemorrhoids develop outside the anal open, they are called external hemorrhoids.
Internal hemorrhoids often form in clusters around the wall of the anal canal. Most of the time they are painless. Due to straining or pressure from hard stool, they may prolapse, or stick out of the anus. They may reduce, or go back inside the body once the bowel movement ends. They might also discharge mucus.
External hemorrhoids are located beneath the skin of the anal opening. These tissues are usually painless unless they thrombose, or form a blood clot. A thrombosed external hemorrhoid looks like a hard, bluish bump and can cause sharp, severe pain. The clot may disappear on its own with time and leave a “skin tag”, tissue stretched by the clot.