The condition people know as hemorrhoids develop when these delicate veins get swollen and distended – just like varicose veins in the legs.
Types of haemorrhoidsThere are two types of haemorrhoids – internal and external. Internal haemorrhoids occur in the lower rectum while external haemorrhoids affect the skin around the anus. Internal haemorrhoids are mostly painless, even when they result in rectal bleeding. But internal haemorrhoids can prolapse (extend beyond the anus), causing more irritation and pain. However, patients with external haemorrhoids report the most discomfort. This is because the skin overlying the anus becomes irritated and erodes. In some cases, a blood clot can form in an external haemorrhoid, which can cause sudden and severe pain. Usually, such clots dissolve, leaving behind skin tags which may itch and become irritated.
Diagnosis and treatmentHaemorrhoids are easy to diagnose from a simple medical history and physical exam. If external haemorrhoids have resulted in a clot, they can be especially apparent. For internal haemorrhoids, your doctor might perform a digital rectal exam or examine the anal canal with an anoscope to check for blood. The doctor might also decide to perform a colonoscopy or a flexible sigmoidoscopy to rule out cancer or colorectal polyps.
Haemorrhoid RemovalIf home remedies don’t work, talk to your doctor about medical procedures to remove haemorrhoids. There are minimally invasive procedures including rubber band ligation, laser or infrared coagulation, sclerotherapy, and cryosurgery. If you have large, protruding haemorrhoids, you might require a surgical procedure known as a haemorrhoidectomy to remove them. This procedure is very effective, curing 95 per cent of cases. Your doctor might also go for a procedure known as stapled haemorroidopexy. This procedure is used to treat prolapsed internal haemorrhoids by stapling them back into their normal position.