Symptoms of Hemorrhoids

It’s estimated that about 40% of people in the United States will experience the symptoms of hemorrhoids, a condition caused by swollen blood vessels in the lower rectum and anus. There are two types of hemorrhoids, internal and external, and the symptoms associated with each are different.

Internal Hemorrhoids

Internal hemorrhoids develop inside the lower rectum, an area which does not have pain-sensing nerves. As a result, these hemorrhoids do not usually cause pain. Symptoms of internal hemorrhoids include:

  • Bleeding during bowel movements.
  • Itching in the anal region.
  • Leakage of stool.
  • Discomfort after a bowel movement.
  • Pain.

Although pain is not a common symptom of internal hemorrhoids, large internal hemorrhoids that become prolapsed can be painful. Contact a healthcare provider immediately if you experience severe pain, which could be a sign that the blood supply to one of the hemorrhoids is being cut off.

External Hemorrhoids

External hemorrhoids develop when the blood vessels under the skin surrounding the anus become swollen and inflamed. Because the nerves in skin are more sensitive to pain, external hemorrhoids are more likely to cause discomfort. The symptoms associated with external hemorrhoids include:

  • Bleeding during bowel movements.
  • Rectal pain.
  • A hard, painful lump near the anus. This is a sign that a blood clot, known as a thrombosis, has formed under the skin.

Although anal bleeding is a common symptom of both types of hemorrhoids, it can also be a sign of more serious medical problems. Contact your doctor to determine if bleeding is a result of hemorrhoids.

Most symptoms of hemorrhoids can be alleviated with at-home treatments. A sitz bath, over-the counter ointments, and witch hazel wipes can reduce or eliminate itching or pain until the swelling and inflammation goes away. If at-home treatments do not work and symptoms continue for more than a week, contact your doctor to discuss further treatment options.