What Are Hemmorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are veins around the anus or lower rectum that are swollen and inflamed. Also known as “piles,” hemorrhoids are caused by increased pressure in the rectal veins. Hemorrhoids occur once the muscles that support the hemorrhoidal vessels weaken and they lose their support and become enlarged.
Hemorrhoids are either beneath the anus or lower rectum (internal) or outside the anal opening (external).
How common are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are a frequent and common medical complaint in the United States as well as worldwide. About half of the population has hemorrhoids by age 50. The prevalence of hemorrhoids is equal between men and women but men are more likely to seek treatment. Hemorrhoids are also common among pregnant women as well as men and women who are overweight.
Why do we develop hemorrhoids?
It is not certain why hemorrhoids develop in some people over others; however, the development of hemorrhoids has been associated with:
- Chronic constipation or diarrhea
- Faulty bowel movement due to the overuse of laxatives or enemas
- Habitual straining with bowel movements
- Spending long periods of time on the toilet (e.g. reading)
- Prolonged sitting
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Eating a low-fiber diet
- Anal/rectal infection
- Excessive weight
What are the symptoms of hemorrhoids?
Symptoms of hemorrhoids include:
- Anal itching
- Protrusion during bowel movements
- Sensitive lumps / painful mass around anus
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Do hemorrhoids have degrees of severity?
Yes. Hemorrhoids are actually classified, depending upon severity, into four degrees. Classifying hemorrhoids helps pinpoint which stage your hemorrhoids are in and also helps determine the most optimal mode of treatment for you.
The four different grades of hemorrhoids are:
First degree: The hemorrhoids remain inside at all times. Though they do not protrude from the anus, these are classified as bleeding hemorrhoids.
Second degree: The hemorrhoids protrude out of the rectum but do not stay inflamed and retract on their own. They may or may not bleed.
Third degree: The hemorrhoids protrude but do not retract. They can be physically pushed back into the anal canal.
Fourth degree: The most severe hemorrhoids always protrude and cannot be pushed back in. These hemorrhoids may also contain blood clots or may pull some of the rectal lining through the anus.
It is best to consult with a doctor to find out exactly the severity of your condition and determine the degree of severity for your hemorrhoids. This would ensure that an optimal treatment plan for you is carried out by one of our affiliated physicians.