What are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids (Piles) are blood vessels located in the smooth muscles of the walls of the rectum and anus. They are a normal part of the anatomy and are located at the junction where small arteries merge into veins. They are cushioned by smooth muscles and connective tissue and are classified by where they are located in relationship to the pectinate line, the dividing point between the upper 2/3 and lower 1/3 of the anus. This is an important anatomic distinction because of the type of cells that line hemorrhoid, and the nerves that provide sensation.
What are the internal and external hemorrhoids?
Internal hemorrhoids are located above the pectinate line and are covered with cells that are the same as those that line the rest of the intestines. External hemorrhoids arise below the line and are covered with cells that resemble skin.
What are the symptoms of hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids become an issue only when they begin to swell, causing itching, pain, and/or bleeding.
External hemorrhoids are located underneath the skin that surrounds the anus and is lower than internal hemorrhoids.
Normal hemorrhoidal tissue cannot be seen since they must first swell and become inflamed or develop a clot to cause symptoms. One can see swollen external hemorrhoids or internal prolapsed hemorrhoids exposed outside the anus but internal hemorrhoids cannot be seen because they remain inside the anus. A thrombosed hemorrhoid will appear as a lump at the anal verge, protruding from the anus, and will be dark bluish in color because of the blood clot contained inside the swollen blood vessel. Non-thrombosed hemorrhoids will appear as a rubbery lump. Often more than one swollen hemorrhoid appears at the same time.
Hemorrhoids are caused by swelling in the anal or rectal veins. This makes them susceptible to irritation.
While the presence of hemorrhoids is a reflection of the normal anatomy, most people and care professionals refer to hemorrhoids as an abnormal finding because they only present when they swell and cause problems.
Hemorrhoid swelling occurs when there is an increase in the pressure in the small vessels that make up hemorrhoids causing them to swell and engorge with blood. This causes them to increase in size leading to symptoms. Increased pressure may be caused by a variety of factors:
A low-fiber diet and smaller caliber stool cause a person to strain when having a bowel movement, increasing the pressure within the blood vessels.Pregnancy is associated with hemorrhoid swelling and is likely due to increased pressure of the enlarged uterus on the rectum and anus. In addition, hormonal changes with pregnancy may weaken the muscles that support the rectum and anus. Prolonged sitting on the toilet may increase pressure within the hemorrhoid blood vessels. Obesity, Diarrhea, both acute and chronic Colon cancer, Previous rectal surgery, Spinal cord injury and lack of erect posture. Read More
What are hemorrhoids?