Internal and External Hemorrhoids: What You Need To Know

Hemorrhoids occur when a vein located within the anal canal or at the anal opening becomes swollen. Once this vein becomes so swollen that it starts exhibiting symptoms, it is then referred to as a hemorrhoid. Hemorrhoids are a common colorectal disorder and are most commonly caused by a diet lacking in enough fiber, this lack of fiber makes straining while passing stools an everyday occurrence which puts undue strain on the veins. If this straining occurs often enough, eventually the veins weaken and hemorrhoids will form. Unfortunately, once hemorrhoids do form, they can become painful and irritated by simple activities such as sitting or exercise.

Internal Hemorrhoids

As you would expect from the name, internal hemorrhoids are hemorrhoids located in the anal canal. Unlike with externally located hemorrhoids, some internally located hemorrhoids may be virtually symptom free, with bleeding the only indication of a problem. Within the anal canal there are two distinct regions divided by what is called the dentate line. The upper portion of the anal canal above the dentate line has no pain receptors so hemorrhoids in this region will be pain free while hemorrhoids located in the lower 1/3 of the anal canal where there are pain receptors will typically be a lot more painful. In addition, the anal canal does provide some protection to the hemorrhoids so they're under less stress than external hemorrhoids.

Because internal hemorrhoids aren't painful, it's tempting to just ignore the symptoms and hope things clear up on their own, but his is never a good idea! The longer you ignore your symptoms the more likely it is that the condition will continue to advance until ignoring it is no longer an option. Prolapse and strangulation are two potential complications that can result in untreated internal hemorrhoids. Prolapse is when an internal hemorrhoid swells so much that it pushes outside the anal opening. In the early stages of prolapse a hemorrhoid may then retract back inside the canal on its own, but eventually it may need to be manually reinserted if unable to retract on its own. One stage past this is a strangulated hemorrhoid, this is when a prolapsed hemorrhoid is no longer capable of retracting on its own or being manually reinserted, it is stuck outside the anal opening. Obviously, once these types of complications occur, the condition becomes increasingly more painful and difficult to treat.

External Hemorrhoids

External hemorrhoids can be very painful and irritating. Due to their location, they are under constant stress from sitting, using the bathroom, exercise, clothing and just basic daily stress which then unfortunately increases the likely hood that they'll become more painful. Burning, bleeding, pain, itching and swelling are all common symptoms with external hemorrhoids, you may even be able to see or feel an external hemorrhoid.

Although it's harder to ignore the symptoms of external hemroids, some people may still ignore the warning signs and suffer additional complications as a result. External hemorrhoids can also continue to swell to the point that surgery then becomes not only necessary, but the only option to get hemorrhoid relief.

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