Commonly known as piles, haemorrhoids are abnormally engorged and swollen blood vessels in the anus and lower rectum. These may rupture and cause bleeding or slip out of place during defecation. Piles cause discomfort and itching, affecting a person's daily lifestyle. This is when treatment may be required, and is referred to as haemorrhoidal disease. It is a common condition, but many people are too embarrassed to see their doctor about it until the pain or discomfort becomes unbearable, or when there is bleeding, causing worry that it may be something more serious.
There is more than one type of haemorrhoid. Internal haemorrhoids develop within the rectum. They may be present but cause no pain or discomfort. However, straining during bowel movement may cause them to bleed and protrude as a result of prolapse. Defecation can cause trauma and bleeding, while the presence of stool and constant moisture in the anal canal can lead to anal itchiness, although itchiness is not a common symptom of haemorrhoids. Less common - the haemorrhoid protrudes from the anus and cannot be pushed back inside, a condition referred to as incarceration of the haemorrhoid.
External haemorrhoids develop around the anus and can be felt as bulges at the anus, but usually cause few of the symptoms typical of internal haemorrhoids. When irritated, they may itch or bleed. External haemorrhoids can cause a very painful anal lump when blood clots inside them (thrombosis).
The information provided on this page does not replace information from your healthcare professional. Please consult your healthcare professional for more information.
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