Hemorrhoids or piles are ugly expressions of an ailment. The condition of varicosity or swelling and inflammation of veins in the rectum and anus is known as hemorrhoids. It is also known as “haemorrhoids” or piles.
The two most common types of hemorrhoids are external hemorrhoids and internal hemorrhoids.
External hemorrhoids: External hemorrhoids occur outside at the lateral end of the anal canal, on the anal verge. They are sometimes painful, and can be accompanied by swelling and irritation. Itching, due to skin irritation, is considered a common symptom of external hemorrhoids. The hemorrhoid becomes a thrombosed hemorrhoid if the vein ruptures and a blood clot develops.
Internal hemorrhoids: Internal hemorrhoids occur inside the rectum. They are usually not painful, and most people aren’t aware that they have them. Internal hemorrhoids may bleed when irritated. If not treated, internal hemorrhoids may lead to the more severe forms of hemorrhoids – prolapsed hemorrhoids and strangulated hemorrhoids.
- Prolapsed hemorrhoids: Internal hemorrhoids become so expanded or swollen that they get pushed outside of the anus.
- Strangulated hemorrhoids: The anal sphincter muscle spasms and traps a prolapsed hemorrhoid outside of the anal opening. The supply of blood is cut off, and the hemorrhoid then becomes a strangulated hemorrhoid.
Causes of Hemorrhoids or Piles:
The major cause of hemorrhoids results from weak rectal vein walls and/or valves. The following are some other hemorrhoids causes:
- Chronic diarrhea
- Straining during bowel movements
- Postponing bowel movements
- Poor bathroom habits; sitting for unusually long periods of time, e.g. reading on the toilet or excessive cleaning attempts.
- Fiber-deprived diet can also contribute.
- Insufficient hydration: drinking less water or drinking too much of diuretic liquids such as coffee or colas can cause a hard stool that can lead to hemorrhoid irritation.
- Tumors in the pelvis also cause enlargement of hemorrhoids by pressing on veins draining upwards from the anal canal.
- An excess of lactic acid in the stool: a product of excessive consumption of milk products such as cheese can cause irritation and a reduction of consumption can bring relief.
- Too much pressure on the rectal veins due to poor posture or muscle tone; obesity and a sedentary lifestyle may cause hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids commonly occur in both sexes, but only 4% of the general population experience the problem. Hemorrhoids are a common occurrence between 45 and 65 years of age.
Approximately one half of all Americans are estimated to have this condition by the age of 50, but only a small number undertake medical treatment. About 500,000 people are medically treated for hemorrhoids annually, with 10 to 20% of them requiring surgeries.