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Understanding Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are enlarged or swollen veins in the anus or rectum that can become extremely aggravating and painful. Nearly half of adults experience the symptoms of this condition by the age of 50, but fortunately there are many treatment options available. Also referred to as piles, hemorrhoids occur when a vein becomes swollen due to increased pressure. They can be classified as either internal or external. The internal version occurs inside the rectum and can often be painless, while external hemorrhoids develop under the skin surrounding the anus and are usually more painful. Common symptoms can include:

  • Bleeding during bowel movements
  • Extreme itching around the anus
  • Painful or itchy swelling near the anus
  • Fecal leakage

If you experience bleeding during bowel movements or pass dark, tarry stools or blood clots, it is recommended that you consult a physician immediately. Other diseases such as anal or colon cancer can produce similar symptoms, so don’t assume your symptoms are caused by hemorrhoids.

There are several factors that can lead to the development of hemorrhoids, such as complications from chronic constipation, repeated straining during bowel movements, sitting on the toilet for long periods, chronic diarrhea, and a low-fiber diet. Pregnant women are also at risk to develop this condition because an enlarged uterus can press on veins in the colon, causing them to bulge.

For patients dealing with the symptoms of hemorrhoids, there are a variety of treatment options that don’t require a doctor’s visit, including dietary modifications, stool softeners, or creams, pads, and ointments that can relieve pain and itching. If these treatments aren’t effective in reducing symptoms, there are several surgical procedures that can either reduce the inflammation or remove the hemorrhoid completely.

Tampa General Hospital’s Endoscopy Center provides a full range of treatment for hemorrhoids and many other anal and rectal conditions. In addition, TGH was named one of America’s Best Hospitals for Gastroenterology and GI Surgery by U.S. News & World Report in 2017-18. Use Tampa General Hospital’s Physician Finder to find a gastroenterologist or call 1-800-822-3627.