Also known as piles, hemorhoids refer to inflamed veins in the lower rectum and anus. This condition is common and pregnant women are especially at risk for it, post-labor. Hemorrhoids can be external or internal, and each kind has different characteristics attributed to it. External refers to hemorrhoids around the anus and internal refers to hemorrhoids found inside the rectum. External hemorrhoids are very visible around the anus and will bleed if scratched, rubbed or wiped. They can become very painful.
Internal hemorrhoids can bleed profusely from the slightest touch and can spread, meaning stretch from inside the rectum to the outside the body. If they do not stretch to the outside, they can remain relatively painless, but if they do stretch, they can easily become irritated and inflamed.
Hemorrhoids are caused by too much pressure being exerted on the veins, causing inflammation. This pressure could be from several different reasons, including constipation or sexual intercourse, or it could be a symptom of more serious conditions such as liver disease. Hemorrhoids can be linked genetically and studies prove that flare-ups can be associated to stress. Pregnant women are more prone to getting hemorrhoids because their enlarged uterus adds pressure and makes it easier for blood vessels to swell. Delivery can also be the direct cause of this condition in pregnant women.
Symptoms are not always evident in every case. Also, since hemorrhoids have similar symptoms to other anal problems, they are often mistaken for other conditions and vice versa. When symptoms do crop up, their duration is usually no longer than a few days. Usually, the primary symptom of hemorrhoids is blood on the patient's stool, swelling, pain of the anus and/or rectum, and bleeding, itching or irritation of the anus. On an external hemorrhoid, patients may have a hard lump on the anus, which is the direct result of a blood clot formation. This extension of the hemorrhoid condition is referred to as a thrombosed external hemorrhoid.
If you suspect that you have or are developing hemorrhoids, it is wise to seek immediate medical attention with your primary physician. Proper diagnosing will curb more serious complications and symptoms, and treatment will be easier. Treatment of hemorrhoids involves treatment of the primary symptoms and is usually quite simple. Your doctor will know the best treatment for you.