Hemorrhoids symptoms are typically characterized by dilated blood vessels in and around the rectum or inside the rectal canal. They may be inflamed, bleed and develop a blood clot (thrombus). External hemorrhoids protrude outside the anus. Internal hemorrhoids may need to be pushed back into the anus after a bowel movement or they may go back by themselves.
Hemorrhoids may bleed, especially after a bowel movement. They may produce stool that is streaked with blood and turn the water in the toilet bowl red. Although disturbing, the amount of blood is usually small and hemorrhoids rarely lead to substantial blood loss.
Straining during a bowel movement can lead to hemorrhoids. A hemorrhoid may become swollen and painful if its surface is raw due to prolonged seating in sports such as cycling or if a blood clot forms in it.
Hemorrhoids are common during and after pregnancy mainly due to constipation and irregular bowel movements. They may also be caused by the increased blood flow in the area of the uterus and the pelvis. This often causes blockage of circulation in the area.
The problem tends to worsen as the pregnancy develops and the weight of the uterus becomes greater. The condition improves after pregnancy but tends to worsen with each successive pregnancy.
- blood streaked stool and blood in toilet bowl
- protrusions in rectal area
- painful bowel movements
- discharge of mucus in rectal area
- itching in the anal region
- difficulty sitting for a long time
A physician can usually diagnose hemorrhoids by inspecting the anus and rectum with a gloved finger. If no diagnosis is made further tests may be required such as a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy to determine the cause of the pain and bleeding. Normally, hemorrhoids do not require treatment unless the symptoms are present.
Prevention is a key measure in reducing hemorrhoids. Proper diet, including plenty of fibre-rich foods and increased fluid intake are helpful. Many over-the-counter pain relievers are available for hemorrhoids in the form of suppository medications, creams, warm sitz baths, and application of an ice pack or cotton balls soaked in witch hazel in the affected area. Avoiding constipation and straining at stool are key preventers.
A procedure, called rubber band ligation may bring relief to large intestinal hemrrhoids. The treatment involves tying off the hemorrhoid with rubber bands, causing the hemorrhoid to shrink and die. This treatment is applied to one hemorrhoid at a time at intervals of two weeks or longer. Repeated treatments are necessary until all the hemorrhoids have been destroyed. In rare cases, surgery brings relief when all other treatments fail.