The Signs and Symptoms of Hemorrhoids

Article reviewed by Marc Steben

Do you think you might have hemorrhoids? The signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids include:

  • Pain that can be extreme in and around the anus
  • Irritation around the anus
  • Lump located near, on or in the anus
  • Tenderness upon pressure on the lump
  • Fecal leakage or soiling of the anus
  • Painful bowel movement
  • Spasms before bowel movement
  • Blood on your tissue or in the underwear after having a bowel movement

Hemorrhoids are abnormally dilated, swollen or inflamed veins in the lower rectum or anus. They form varicose veins that can cause a clot to form in the veins of the anus. They are very common and many adults will suffer from hemorrhoids at some time in their life. The actual cause of hemorrhoids is unknown. The problem is believed to be excessive pressure on the anal or rectal veins.

Internal Hemorrhoids

Internal hemorrhoids originate in the lower rectum. This part of the rectum lacks nerve cells, which is why internal hemorrhoids are virtually painless. Internal hemorrhoids can protrude from the anus when stool is passed or when a person is in a standing position for some time. These are called prolapsed hemorrhoids, and they can become painful especially if a blood clot forms in the veins.

The signs and symptoms of internal hemorrhoids are rectal bleeding when passing stool, itching, inflammation, discharge or excessive moisture, soiling of the anal area, a bluish swelling in the anus and sometimes some obstruction caused by a blood clot.

External Hemorrhoids

External hemorrhoids develop below the rectal opening or around the anus. They are located under the skin, and the presence of nerve cells in these tissues makes them sensitive and painful. The signs and symptoms are the same as for internal hemorrhoids plus discomfort, pain or itching when passing stool.

Bleeding can occur if a hemorrhoidal vein tears because of a sudden increase in pressure or scraping. Other signs and symptoms include incomplete bowel emptying and, in serious cases, a feeling of weakness or fatigue that is sometimes accompanied by anemia in chronic cases. In general, hemorrhoid signs and symptoms worsen with diarrhea or constipation.

Thrombosed Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids can be more complicated. Blood can clot around the anus, creating thrombosed hemorrhoids presenting as a smooth, bluish swelling, which is very painful. They can occur the day after childbirth. Thrombosed hemorrhoids should be treated promptly to avoid other complications.

If you are experiencing anorectal pain or discomfort or blood in your stool, you should see a healthcare professional right away. Treatment options are available to help relieve your symptoms and prevent them from getting worse.