Hemorrhoids are enlarged, swollen veins in the anus. Hemorrhoids can occur inside the anus (internal hemorrhoids) or outside of the anus (external hemorrhoids).

External hemorrhoids are sometimes painful. Internal hemorrhoids are not as painful as external hemorrhoids and can range in size from a slight swelling under the wall of the anus to large, sagging veins that stick out of the anus. Internal hemorrhoids may cause painless bleeding during a bowel movement. A person may have both internal and external hemorrhoids.

Common causes of hemorrhoids are straining during bowel movements and pregnancy. Symptoms of hemorrhoids include bright red blood on toilet paper or stool, itching, pain, or a lump of soft tissue outside of the anus.

Rectal bleeding needs to be evaluated by a health professional. Home treatment may be all that is needed to relieve the discomfort of minor hemorrhoids. In some cases, surgery may be needed.

Last Updated: September 29, 2008

Author: Monica Rhodes

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Brent Shoji, MD - General Surgery

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