Haemorrhoids aren't usually painful, unless their blood supply slows down or is interrupted.
What are Haemorrhoids?
Haemorrhoids (or piles) are enlarged, bulging blood vessels in and around the anus. These vessels/vascular cushions are part of the normal anatomy. They only cause problems if they become swollen or engorged or if they slide down from their normal position (prolapse).
The exact cause of haemorrhoids remains unknown. However, the upright posture of humans makes us more prone to them than animals that walk on all fours. Other possible factors that can lead to increased pressure in the vascular cushions and can contribute to haemorrhoids include:
- pregnancy and childbirth
- chronic constipation and straining
- overuse of laxatives
Haemorrhoidal symptoms are very common and over 50% of the population will have them at some time in their life.
Did you know?
Haemorrhoids are very common and increasingly occur with age? In fact, approximately half of all adults have been bothered by hemorrhoids by age 50, though not all suffer with symptoms of irritation. Fortunately, the majority of haemorrhoids inflammation is successfully treated by simply increasing fibre and water intake and avoiding sitting on the toilet for long periods of time during bowel movements.
Symptoms of haemorrhoids
Patients have variable symptoms that may include:
- Bright red rectal bleeding. This is usually after opening your bowel and may vary from a smear of blood on the toilet paper to profuse bleeding into the pan.
- A swelling protruding from the anus (prolapse). These lumps felt at the anal verge following bowel movements may reduce by themselves, require manual reduction or remain prolapsed.
- Itching around the anus with associated soreness or mucus discharge.
Haemorrhoids can be painful but this is not common. This usually signifies that the haemorrhoid has thrombosed (prolapsed and clotted).