Hemorrhoids are the pain-free vascular structures located around and inside the anus. The same term is used to describe these structures when they become inflamed and swollen, causing various symptoms.

from symptoms to treatment

What should I know about hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are normal anatomical structures that are located in and around the anus and are present from the day we are born. They are generally grouped together in clusters of three or four which attach to the lining of the anus. Internal hemorrhoids that line the anal canal resemble purplish-blue cushions. External hemorrhoids are located right outside the anus and are only visible when complications such as thrombosis arise.

  • What are the symptoms of hemorrhoids?

    Hemorrhoids are considered a disease when accompanied by the following clinical signs: bleeding during or after bowel movements, anal pain during defecation, an anal “lump” (thrombosed hemorrhoid) causing variable degrees of pain, itching, and sometimes a white mucus anal discharge.

  • What are the risk factors for hemorrhoids?

    Hemorrhoids are caused by constant or recurrent pressure on the anus. This pressure usually results from prolonged straining during bowel movements due to constipation. Other factors may increase the risk of hemorrhoids such as diarrhea, heavy lifting, poor posture, prolonged sitting or standing, pregnancy, anal intercourse, obesity, and certain sports like horseback riding or cycling.

  • How are hemorrhoids diagnosed?

    In the presence of certain symptoms, the following exams should be performed:  rectal exam (with gloved hands, the doctor inserts a finger into the rectum to examine the hemorrhoids); anoscopy, in which the patient is in the genupectoral position (kneeling on the examining table) while the doctor examines the rectum using an anoscope (a narrow tube equipped with a light).  

  • What are the treatment options for hemorrhoids?

    Medications can be prescribed to relieve pain (painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs); improve intestinal transit (laxatives); alleviate venous insufficiency (venotonic drugs); reduce edema and soothe local inflammation (suppositories and creams).

    Methods aimed at cutting off the hemorrhoids’ blood supply may be chemical (sclerotherapy), thermal (photocoagulation, or coagulation therapy) or mechanic (rubber band ligation). Each of these techniques causes scar tissue to form which then holds the anal canal veins in place.

    Surgery is used if the above methods fail, or for patients with severe hemorrhoids.

Key figures

  • 86%

    of the population will suffer from hemorrhoids in their lifetime.

  • Between 45 and 65 years old

    Hemorrhoids can occur at any age, but this age group is more often affected.

Consult our gastroenterologists

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American Hospital of Paris