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What are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lowest part of your rectum and anus. Sometimes, the walls of these blood vessels stretch so thin that the veins bulge and get irritated, especially when you poop. Hemorrhoids are also called piles.

Hemorrhoids are one of the most common causes of rectal bleeding. They often go away on their own. Treatments can also help.

Symptoms of Hemorrhoids

Signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids usually depend on the type of hemorrhoid.

External hemorrhoids

These are under the skin around your anus. Signs and symptoms might include:

  • Itching or irritation in your anal region
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Swelling around your anus
  • Bleeding

Internal hemorrhoids

Internal hemorrhoids lie inside the rectum. You usually can’t see or feel them, and they rarely cause discomfort. But straining or irritation when passing stool can cause:

Painless bleeding during bowel movements. You might notice small amounts of bright red blood on your toilet tissue or in the toilet.

Hemorrhoid to push through the anal opening (prolapsed or protruding hemorrhoid), resulting in pain and irritation.

Thrombosed hemorrhoids

If blood pools in external hemorrhoid and forms a clot (thrombus), it can result in:

  • Severe pain
  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • A hard lump near your anus

Causes and Risk Factors of Hemorrhoids

You may be more likely to get hemorrhoids if other family members, like your parents, had them.

Pressure building up in your lower rectum can affect blood flow and make the veins there swell. That may happen from:

  • Pushing during bowel movements
  • Straining when you do something that’s physically hard, like lifting something heavy
  • Extra weight, like obesity
  • Pregnancy, when your growing uterus presses on your veins
  • A diet low in fiber
  • Anal sex

People who stand or sit for long stretches of time are at greater risk, too.

You may get them when you have constipation or diarrhea that doesn’t clear up. Coughingsneezing, and vomiting could make them worse.

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