Hemorrhoids are an incredibly prevalent condition. In fact, it is so prevalent that it is predicted that around four fifths of people will suffer from them at some point in their life. The thing is, most people will not actually know they are suffering from them! On this page I want to take a little look at what Hemorrhoids are exactly, and the differences between the types of hemorrhoids that you can suffer from.
Let’s Find Out: What are Hemorrhoids Exactly?
Hemorrhoids are nothing more than swollen blood vessels around your rectum (these can swell in a number of ways, more on that soon!). These swollen blood vessels are very tender to the touch and can bleed and cause intense amount of pain with the lightest brush against it.
The reason why these vessels have swollen is because either the tissues become weak around the anus (common with old age), or perhaps because they have become irritated by bowel movements. Whatever the reason though, they cause the blood vessels to swell, and the walls of the vein become stretched. It can be quite painful, but as I said, most people would never know that they are suffering from hemorrhoids, and if they did, it would be at the point where the pain is too much to deal with.
Internal and External Hemorrhoids
As I mentioned at the start, there are a couple of different types of Hemorrhoids. You have ‘internal’ ones, and ‘external’ ones. Let’s take a little look at both in depth shall we?
Internal hemorrhoids are normally located a couple of centimetres inside of the rectum. They are so deep that you would not be able to see them, let alone feel them! This is the type of hemorrhoid that doesn’t hurt much, if at all. In some cases there can be small amounts of pain, but this is very rare.
Most people only realize that they have hemorrhoids when their anus starts to bleed. In some cases, the hemorrhoids grow so large that they actually start to come out of the anus. You will be able to see them, and yes, they will hurt. They will be identifiable as ‘pink coloured’ skin. They will probably hurt you a lot if they become thrombosed. Eventually internal hemorrhoids will go back into the anus on their own with treatment. In some cases your doctor may want to push them back into place and/or a hemorrhoid surgery might be needed.
Internal hemorrhoids are broken down into four different categories by doctors depending on the seriousness of the problem (degree of prolapse). These are:
- First Degree: These are ones which are prominent blood vessels but do not come out of the anus.
- Second Degree: These come out of the anus when a person passes a stool but goes back in after.
- Third Degree: These come out after passing a stool and will need to be manually pushed back in.
- Fourth Degree: These cannot be placed back in at all, even manually.
External Hemorrhoids can be very painful. They can be seen and felt. The thing that causes the pain with external hemorrhoids is the fact that they often have blood clots form inside. This is a condition known as thrombosis. Quite often this will turn the external hemorrhoids a bright shade of blue. They aren’t serious really, although painful. Most people find that their external hemorrhoids clear up within a couple of weeks, often without treatment, just some lifestyle alterations, ointment for hemorrhoids and a healthy diet plan. Although treatment is available if you wish.
As mentioned previously, Hemorrhoids have a number of different causes. I now want to cover the risk groups very briefly. If you are in one of these risk groups then it is probably going to be ideal if you checked every so often to see if there is any problem:
- You are overweight. This could be general ‘overweightness’ or as the result of a pregnancy. Being overweight will cause severe amounts of pressure on the tissues in your anus which will eventually cause them to weaken. At this point hemorrhoids are likely to occur.
- Those over the age of fifty are perhaps one of the biggest risk groups when it comes to hemorrhoids. This is because at time passes on, the tissues in the lower part of your body start to weaken.
- Those that sit for long periods of time.
- Those with a lack of fibre in their diet which causes mild constipation and those that need to strain to get a stool out.
- Someone that sit for long periods of time.
- Those that lift heavy items regularly.
- Those that are genetically ‘pre-disposed’ to Hemorrhoids i.e. it is a prevalent condition in your close family.
Hemorrhoids, as mentioned previously, are a difficult problem to spot. Most people aren’t even aware that they are suffering from them. Perhaps one of the biggest ‘tell-tale’ signs is blood in the stools. If this occurs then it is important that you visit a doctor as soon as possible for hemorrhoids diagnosis. Not because hemorrhoids are a problem which needs to be dealt with soon (they are if you don’t want to be in pain by the way!) but because anal bleeding can signify a number of problems, some of which are going to be a great deal more serious than hemorrhoids. In addition to the bleeding there may be lumps and swelling around the anus. What actually occurs is going to be different based on the condition that you are suffering from (i.e. external or internal hemorrhoids!)
There are a variety of treatment methods available for hemorrhoids. What your doctor uses will be dependent on the severity of your problem. It can be anything from just waiting and seeing what happens through to medicine or even surgery (very rare!). If this is a problem that continues to occur and you are in one of the ‘at risk’ groups then they will work with you to determine how you can put things right again and end up with a happy and healthy body! For more information on ‘What are Hemorrhoids?’ please watch this video: