Hemorrhoids are enlarged venous vessels in the rectal area and the anal canal. Veins are normally present in all individuals, but when they become enlarged, they are referred to as hemorrhoids, and can then lead to uncomfortable symptoms. Middle aged men and women are the most likely to develop hemorrhoids, and they are found in nearly five percent of the population in this group. Age, diarrhea, pregnancy, prolonged sitting, straining during bowel movements, and constipation can all lead to the development of hemorrhoids, although these risk factors are not found in all individuals with hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoid symptoms vary, but typically include bleeding, itching, and pain. In suffers of hemorrhoids, bleeding may be painless. The stools may be coated with bright red blood, and blood may also be observed on toilet paper. The amount of blood in hemorrhoids is typically small, although in rare cases larger bleeds may occur. Individuals with bleeding upon the passage of stools should receive medical evaluation, as there are other causes of rectal bleeding in addition to hemorrhoids.
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A second common symptom, is itching. This may be associated with a mild feeling of wetness, and can be due to the leakage of stool, swelling associated with the irritation of the hemorrhoid, as well as vigorous cleaning and wiping by the sufferer, causing skin irritation.
Finally, hemorrhoids may sometimes, but not always, be painful. Sufferers may feel a lump or a protrusion from the anal area, and this protrusion is often highly sensitive to touch, because of inflammation. The pain associated with hemorrhoids may be a symptom that the hemorrhoid has “clotted off,” or thromboses.
The hemorrhoid symptoms of pain, itching, and bleeding are highly suggestive of, but not necessarily restricted to this condition. Individuals experiencing what they believe to be hemorrhoids are urged to seek further medical evaluation to rule out the presence of other conditions.