Hemorrhoids - Symptoms

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What were the symptoms of your hemorrhoids?

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What are the signs and symptoms of a hemorrhoid?

Hemorrhoids are the most common cause of rectal and anal complaints. The most common complaint is painless bleeding, anal itching, pain, swelling and feeling a lump at the anus are all associated with an inflamed hemorrhoid.

It is important to remember that rectal bleeding or blood in the stool is never normal and while it may come from a relatively benign cause like hemorrhoids, more serious causes can be life threatening. These include bleeding from ulcers, diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and tumors. If rectal bleeding occurs, it is important to contact your health care professional or seek emergency medical care. This is especially important if the person is taking blood thinning medications.

When an internal hemorrhoid becomes inflamed, it can cause swelling. This in itself does not cause pain because there are no pain fibers attached to the veins above the pectinate line. Passing a hard stool can scrape off the thinned lining of the hemorrhoid causing painless bleeding. However, the swollen hemorrhoid can also cause spasm of the muscles that surround the rectum and anus causing pain, especially if they protrude or prolapse through the anus. A lump can be felt at the anal verge. Internal hemorrhoids can also thrombose (clot) leading to severe pain.

The inflamed hemorrhoid can leak mucus that can cause inflammation of the skin surrounding the anus causing burning and itching, known as pruritis ani. However, other causes of itching include yeast and other skin infections and parasites like pinworms. Most importantly, just as blood in the stool should not ignored in the stool because it mike be a sign of colon cancer, anal itching or bleeding should not be presumed to be due to hemorrhoids because it can be a sign of anal cancer tumor.

External hemorrhoids behave differently since they are covered by "regular skin" and have pain fibers associated with them. A thrombosed external hemorrhoid occurs when an underlying vein within the hemorrhoid clots off causing intense pain from the rapid stretching of the skin covering the hemorrhoid. A hard painful lump can be felt at the anus. External hemorrhoids can also result in excess skin tags that can be felt at the anal verge and can cause difficulties with cleaning after a bowel movement, leading to secondary skin infections.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: SMatthews, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: February 04

My first episode made me think I might be having a heart attack - the tightness in my chest, the pain, the shortness of breath - it was awful. That was 30 years ago and I've had plenty of episodes since then but I figured out a way to stop the attacks dead in their tracks. Drink something (anything) very, very fast until you're able to have a hearty burp. Once you burp, the pain, the pressure, the shortness of breath all disappear.

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Comment from: D, 35-44 Male (Patient) Published: March 06

I was just diagnosed with a hiatal hernia, I had no idea I had it. I went to the doctor for bad heart burn, because I have been on heart burn medications for about three years and thought something was up. I was then told about the hernia; with hind sight I have had some symptoms for a while and just didn"t know. The shortness in breath is the worst. I recently moved to a high altitude area and thought it was just old age; I was wrong.

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