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What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are a vascular network that go around the anus. There are two networks of hemmorhoids: internal and external.

Hemorrhoids are enlarged blood vessels or veins in the anal or rectal area. They can occur on the outside of the anus, where they are felt as small bumps when wiping; or they may be located on the inside, where they are usually painless. Hemorrhoids are one of the most common and nagging disorders. Although troublesome, hemorrhoids are rarely serious and often clear up by themselves or with minimal treatment. Treatment typically is simple and effective and may include pain-free ligation or “banding,” which can be done in an office setting. More serious cases may still require surgery. People with hemorrhoids who work closely with their physician are usually assured a good outcome and relief from this common disorder.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Anatomically speaking, your anus is a lot like your mouth (you can stop cringing now). It has cells that are inside the body that help transfer substances to cells outside your body. One of the most common problems you can experience here is hemorrhoids, which are swollen veins in the lower rectum and anus. Causing a lot of bleeding, irritation, and pain, they typically come about when the veins swell under heavy pressure-usually due to straining when you're going to the bathroom.

YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

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YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

Between your full-length mirror and high-school biology class, you probably think you know a lot about the human body. While it's true that we live in an age when we're as obsessed with our bodies as...
Dr. Robynne K. Chutkan, MD
Gastroenterologist

Hemorrhoids are really just veins in the rectal area that everyone has. When they become engorged or inflamed we call them hemorrhoids or piles. Flare-ups are usually caused by constipation, straining, or frequent loose stools. Pregnancy can lead to hemorrhoids as a result of pressure from the enlarged uterus and increased pelvic blood flow. Hemorrhoids inside the anal canal (internal hemorrhoids) usually cause painless bleeding while hemorrhoids at the opening of the anus (external hemorrhoids) usually cause pain. Both kinds can become engorged with blood (thrombosed hemorrhoids) resulting in an excruciatingly painful swollen lump.

Hemorrhoids (also called piles) are swollen blood vessels in the anus and rectum that become engorged from increased pressure, similar to what occurs in varicose veins in the legs. Hemorrhoids can either be internal (inside the anus) or external (under the skin around the anus). Hemorrhoids are the most common cause of minor rectal bleeding, and are typically not associated with pain. Bleeding from hemorrhoids is usually associated with bowel movements, or it may also stain the toilet paper with blood. The exact cause of bleeding from hemorrhoids is not known, but it often seems to be related to constipation, diarrhea, sitting or standing for long periods, obesity, heavy lifting and pregnancy. Symptoms from hemorrhoids may run in some families. Hemorrhoids are also more common as we get older. Fortunately, this very common condition does not lead to cancer.

Hemorrhoids are cushions full of arteries and veins that are found near the anus (end of your GI tract), where poop is last prior to entering the porcelain. Everybody has them, even babies. When hemorrhoids enlarge and fall out of position, they may cause symptoms, and these symptoms are what people are usually talking about.

Dr. Brooke H. Gurland, MD
Colorectal Surgeon

Hemorrhoids are vascular cushions covered with the lining of the anal canal located in or around the anus. Hemorrhoids can be external, internal or a combination of both (interno-external). External hemorrhoids can be skin alone or skin with a vascular cushion underneath. Internal hemorrhoids are dilated vascular cushions which protrude inside when small or can sometimes extend outside the anus either after a bowel movement; they can also be present externally all the time.

External hemorrhoids can also form a clot. This is called a thrombosed external hemorrhoid and it can be very painful.

Hemorrhoids occur when pressure builds up in the veins of the rectum or anus resulting in swelling. When hemorrhoids form inside the rectum, they're called internal hemorrhoids; when they form around the anus, they're called external hemorrhoids. This common condition may cause symptoms like bleeding, pain, and mucus discharge. Although hemorrhoids may run in families, other contributing factors can include pregnancy, aging, strained bowel movements, and a low-fiber diet.

Hemorrhoids are swelling in the rectum or anal area that may protrude through the anus when straining. They usually contain enlarged veins and are most common in people over the age of 50. Three out of four people will develop hemorrhoids at some time in their lives.

While many people associate hemorrhoids with painful surgery, only a small percentage of patients actually require surgery. New, comfortable office treatments have taken the fear out of treating hemorrhoids.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.