Hemorrhoids are commonly known as piles are derived from the Greek word “haimorrhoos” which means “flowing with blood” which is actually one of the many hemorrhoids symptoms. Hemorrhoids are inflamed and swollen veins surrounding the lower rectum or the anus.
About 13 million individuals or about 4.4 % of the population in US suffer from hemorrhoids (2006). The symptoms are however of less concern due to the reason that it has low mortality. Nevertheless, it is important to know the symptoms of hemorrhoids to prevent complications.
Moreover, while it is true that it is life threatening, hemorrhoids symptoms are the same with the symptoms experienced with other gastrointestinal diseases such as ulcerative colitis, colon polyp, Chron’s disease, diverticulosis, colorectal cancer, peptic ulcer and others. The mentioned diseases are life threatening.
Types of Hemorrhoids
Two types of hemorrhoids are classified according to location: Internal and External. Internal hemorrhoids are clumps of tissue found in the inner part of the anal canal and attached to the visceral nerves. Since it is located inside it cannot be examined externally.
These types are composed of blood vessels, elastic fibers and muscle. External hemorrhoids on the other hand are enlarged blood vessels under the skin around the anus attached to the somatic nerves.
The Symptoms of Internal Hemorrhoids
Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool is the hallmark of hemorrhoids symptoms. Blood is bright red or fresh. Brownish colored blood in the stool indicates a different type gastrointestinal tract disease which is more internal. Blood may appear on the toilet paper when wiping after defecation aside from in the stool itself. More severe cases may cause blood to drip from the rectum. Excessive rectal bleeding may cause dizziness and faintness.
Another internal hemroid sign is the noticeable bulging within the rectum during defecation. Due to pressure during defecation, these bulges may protrude or prolapse towards the anus. There are four stages of bulging of internal hemorrhoids based on protrusion or prolapse.
If bulging is into the anal canal, it is classified as a first degree internal hemorrhoid, the second degree is when the prolapse is in the anus during defecation and is able to retract automatically. The third degree also prolapses in the anus but has to be physically pushed back in while the fourth one bulges from the anus permanently.
Pain as a piles symptom is seldom felt since it is attached to the visceral nerves. Visceral nerves are like the nerves start from the intestine and extends until above the dentate line in the rectum. These nerves do not feel any pain but can feel pressure.
Pain may only be felt but seldom occurs only if the prolapse becomes larger because it may be squeezed with the anal sphincter muscle. The anal sphincter is the one responsible in pushing out the bowel during defecation. Large hemroids that get squeezed may be deprived of blood supply which may also cause deprivation of other surrounding tissues. If this occurs, immediate medical attention is needed.
Other internal hemorrhoids symptoms include itchiness in the anus. This is caused due to absorption of mucus by the hemorrhoid. When mucus is absorbed by the hemroid, this causes irritation which then results to itching.
Due to anal and rectal lumps, there is also an uncomfortable urge to pass stools after bowel movement and since the visceral nerves can feel pressure there is always a feeling of a lump inside the rectum especially if the hemorrhoids grow larger.
The External Hemorrhoids Symptoms
Pain in the anus is the hallmark of external hemorrhoids symptoms since hemorrhoids form outside the pectinate line. The nerves around this area are called somatic nerves. These nerves are similar to the nerves in the skin which is very sensitive to stimuli and thus, feels pain.
Thrombosis or the formation of blood clots or thrombus may result from external hemorrhoids. This leads to the interference of blood flow in the circulatory system. The impedance of flow in the anal area may cause inflammation which again results to more pain. This symptom is called perianal hematoma. “Peri” means around, “anal” pertains to the anus and hematoma meaning blood clot and is also classified under the fourth degree stage.
Diagnosis of Hemorrhoids
Upon the first sign of bleeding in the anus, it is important to seek for medical consultation to rule out if it is caused by piles or other gastrointestinal disease. The doctor will have an interview to determine if there are other hemorrhoids symptoms that are present.
The next step that the doctor will do is to examine the anus if there are lumps around it. Again, seeing any lumps does not confirm hemroids because piles symptoms could be similar to other anorectal problems such as warts, polyps, abscesses and warts.
Aside from ocular inspection, the doctor will palpate the presence of hemorrhoids through a digital rectal exam with the aid of an anoscope. An anoscope is a type of scope which is hollow and has a light enabling the doctor to view within the rectum.
Blood tests such as complete blood count are done in cases of severe bleeding that causes faintness and dizziness. These hemorrhoids symptoms may also mean that low blood count have resulted and long term bleeding might even lead to anemia.
Another examination done upon noticing any of the hemorrhoids symptoms to confirm or to rule out any other diseases especially for people aged 40 and higher, who are at risk for colon cancers, are colonoscopy. A colonoscope is a lighted tube which is thin and flexible enough to be inserted through the anus until the upper portion of the big intestine, called the colon. This transmits images taken from the rectum and the entire colon. Through this, piles will be detected as well as ulcerations, polyps or any abnormal growth in the rectum or colon.
Another procedure similar to colonoscopy is sigmoidoscopy. The difference is that the sigmoidoscope has a shorter tube than the colonoscope because it reaches only until the said sigmoid colon. Sigmoid colon is found at the lowest part of the big intestine, next to it is already the rectum. It also shows images of the rectum until the sigmoid colon. Colonoscopy, however, is more preferred by doctors since it covers a larger area using similar procedure.
Another is the barium enema. This uses barium as a contrast material. This is placed through the anus until the colon to provide a contrast which can be seen in x-ray pictures. Barium will appear white on the xray. Any dark part will indicate a blockage or a lump anywhere in the rectum or colon.
Results from any of these diagnostic materials combined with any reported hemorrhoids symptoms, the doctor can now finalize the diagnosis of hemorrhoids or rule out hemroids and come up with another diagnosis which might not be piles.
Hemroid symptoms should not be taken for granted. The first appearance of any of the hemorrhoids symptoms should alarm anybody to seek for medical consultation. If it is diagnosed as piles, it is beneficial to get the best hemorrhoid cream available and to start medication early. It is also true if the diagnosis is another type of disease. Early detection especially with diseases like cancer, Chron’s disease and other more serious diseases may cause faster recovery or total treatment of the disease. For more very useful information on hemorrhoids symptoms and signs please watch this video: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=An9YBg1WoEw[/youtube]