Hemorrhoids, also called piles, are swollen, inflamed veins around the anus or lower rectum. Hemorrhoids are either inside the anus or under the skin around the anus, and often result from chronic (long term) straining to have a bowel movement. Other factors that may lead to hemorrhoids include pregnancy, aging, and chronic constipation or diarrhea.
Hemorrhoids are very common in both men and women. The American College of Gastroenterology estimates that about half of all individuals have hemorrhoids by age 50. The most common symptom of hemorrhoids inside the anus is bright red blood covering the stool, on toilet paper or in the toilet bowl. Symptoms usually go away within a few days. Hemorrhoids can be recurrent and are more likely to occur in those having symptoms in the past.
Hemorrhoids are also common among pregnant women. The pressure of the fetus on the abdomen, as well as hormonal changes, can cause the hemorrhoidal vessels in the anus to enlarge. These vessels are also placed under severe pressure during childbirth. For most women, however, hemorrhoids caused by pregnancy are a temporary problem.

Related Terms

Abscesses, anal fissure, anoscope, colonoscopy, constipation, diarrhea, external hemorrhoid, fissures, fistulae, hemorrhoidal, hemorrhoidal tissue, hemorrhoidectomy, infrared coagulation, internal hemorrhoid, piles, proctoscope, prolapsed, pruritus ani, rubber band ligation, sclerosing, sclerotherapy, sigmoidoscope, thromboembolism, thrombophlebitis, thrombus.