What Exactly Are Hemorrhoids and How Do They Develop?


Hemorrhoids, often referred to as piles, are swollen veins in the rectal area or around the anus. They can develop internally, within the rectum, or externally, under the skin around the anus. While hemorrhoids are a common condition, many people are unaware of what they are and how they develop. Hemorrhoids can cause discomfort, itching, pain, and bleeding, affecting millions of people worldwide. Understanding the causes and development of hemorrhoids is essential for effective management and prevention of this common medical condition.

What Are Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are vascular structures located in the anal canal and rectum that help control bowel movements. When the veins in these areas become swollen or inflamed, they can form hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids can be classified into two main types: internal hemorrhoids, which develop inside the rectum, and external hemorrhoids, which form under the skin around the anus. Internal hemorrhoids are typically painless but may cause bleeding during bowel movements, while external hemorrhoids can be painful and may cause discomfort, itching, or bleeding.

Development of Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids develop when the veins in the anal canal or rectum become swollen or inflamed due to increased pressure or strain. Several factors can contribute to the development of hemorrhoids, including constipation, straining during bowel movements, prolonged sitting or standing, obesity, pregnancy, and aging. When pressure is exerted on the veins in the anal canal, such as during straining to pass stool or lifting heavy objects, it can cause the veins to swell and bulge, leading to the formation of hemorrhoids. Chronic constipation or diarrhea can also contribute to the development of hemorrhoids by causing repeated straining during bowel movements.

Risk Factors for Hemorrhoids

Certain factors can increase the risk of developing hemorrhoids. These include a sedentary lifestyle, a diet low in fiber, obesity, pregnancy, aging, and a family history of hemorrhoids. Individuals who sit or stand for prolonged periods, lift heavy objects regularly, or have chronic constipation or diarrhea are also at higher risk of developing hemorrhoids. Pregnant women are particularly susceptible to hemorrhoids due to increased pressure on the pelvic area and hormonal changes that can weaken the veins in the rectal area. Additionally, aging can weaken the tissues and muscles supporting the veins, making older adults more prone to developing hemorrhoids.

Symptoms of Hemorrhoids

The symptoms of hemorrhoids can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. Internal hemorrhoids may cause bleeding during bowel movements, often characterized by bright red blood on toilet paper or in the toilet bowl. External hemorrhoids, on the other hand, can cause pain, discomfort, itching, or swelling around the anus. Some individuals may experience a sensation of fullness or incomplete evacuation after bowel movements due to the presence of hemorrhoids. In severe cases, hemorrhoids can prolapse, or protrude outside the anus, leading to further discomfort and complications.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing hemorrhoids typically involves a physical examination of the anal area and a review of the patient’s medical history and symptoms. In some cases, additional tests such as a digital rectal exam, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy may be recommended to rule out other conditions or evaluate the extent of the hemorrhoids. Treatment for hemorrhoids often focuses on relieving symptoms and reducing discomfort. This may include lifestyle modifications such as increasing fiber intake, drinking plenty of fluids, and avoiding straining during bowel movements. Over-the-counter medications such as topical creams, ointments, or suppositories may also provide relief from pain, itching, and inflammation. In severe cases or when conservative measures fail to provide relief, surgical procedures such as hemorrhoidectomy or rubber band ligation may be recommended to remove or shrink the hemorrhoids.

Prevention of Hemorrhoids

Preventing hemorrhoids involves adopting healthy lifestyle habits and avoiding behaviors that increase the risk of developing the condition. This includes maintaining a diet rich in fiber and staying hydrated to promote regular bowel movements and prevent constipation. Regular exercise can also help improve bowel function and reduce the risk of hemorrhoids. Additionally, avoiding prolonged sitting or standing, practicing good anal hygiene, and using gentle wiping techniques after bowel movements can help prevent irritation and inflammation of the anal area. Pregnant women should take steps to manage constipation and avoid straining during bowel movements to reduce the risk of developing hemorrhoids during pregnancy.


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