* What are the symptoms of hemorrhoids?
Bleeding from hemorrhoids is usually bright red, often dripping into the toilet bowl, or noticed when wiping. The stools themselves are normal looking, indicating that the bleeding is originating only from the anorectal area. Sludge of dark blood and stool mixed thoroughly together is usually from a source within the small and large intestines and not hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoidal bleeding is painless, and this differentiates it from anal fissures, which is also a very common anal condition that presents with similar bright red bleeding during defecation, but with anal pain.
Hemorrhoids only become painful when they thrombosed or incarcerated. Thrombosed hemorrhoids occur when blood clots within the hemorrhoids, causing very obvious swelling and pain. While surgery for this may be effective during the first 4 days of the attack, if left alone the swelling and pain gradually subside and disappear after 2 weeks. Usually this occurs just once or twice in a person’s lifetime, and it is uncommon to have repeated episodes of thrombosis.
Doctors often classify patients as to having either external or internal hemorrhoids. External hemorrhoids are located just outside the anus, and hence are always visible on routine inspection. Many people have them without suffering from any symptoms, and therefore these may be safely left alone. Sometimes external hemorrhoids may make cleaning difficult, allowing sweat and anal discharge to hide between folds, resulting in anal itching.
Internal hemorrhoids arise from inside the anus and are therefore only visible when, because of excessive laxity, they protrude outside. This condition is called prolapsed, and usually occurs during defecation. When internal hemorrhoids prolapsed they may either slip back inside on their own, or require manipulation by the person for it goes back in. When the prolapsed hemorrhoids cannot be returned, they become trapped outside, resulting in pain and swelling. This scenario is called incarcerated hemorrhoids.