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Signs and Symptoms of Internal Hemorrhoids

written by: Lashan Clarke • edited by: BStone • updated: 4/4/2011

Internal hemorrhoids are a collection of enlarged blood vessels within an inflamed area of the lower rectum. Someone who suffers from constant straining and pressure in this area may be at an increased risk for developing internal hemorrhoid symptoms.

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    For anyone who has ever suffered from internal hemorrhoids, you are aware of the pain and discomfort that they may cause. What exactly are they? An internal hemorrhoid develops over time and can last quite a long time if left untreated, causing pain and irritation.

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    Overview

    To understand what an internal hemorrhoid is, you will need to understand the anatomy and pathology of the rectum. Hemorrhoids develop at the intersection between the rectum and the anus. The anorectal or pectinate line is at the intersection of these two areas. In the area of the anorectal line there are two different types of blood supply. As there are two different blood supplies, this area is prone to inflammation if there is irritation or pressure. As a result in some people, this border is the main location for the formation of internal hemorrhoids. Where external hemorrhoids form under the skin around the anus, internal hemorrhoids develop around the lower rectum.

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    Signs and Symptoms of Hemorrhoids

    When a person strains to have a bowel movement, this can cause pressure to the area of the anorectal line, leading to an irritation of the blood vessels that are located there. This in turn leads to the burning, inflammation and pain that are characteristic of hemorrhoids. As the buildup of pressure continues, there may be an increase in the redness and inflammation. A person may experience a lot of pain when sitting down or having a bowel movement. Some people with internal hemorrhoids will not experience any pain but may notice blood in the stool or on toilet paper. Often when the internal hemorrhoids are prolapsed, or are protruding through the anus, pain is common. Internal hemorrhoids that are not prolapsed may not cause any pain. The only symptom may be blood in the stool, on paper or in the toilet after having a bowel movement. Another of the more common internal hemorrhoid symptoms is anal itching.

    In a small number of people, internal hemorrhoid symptoms can be caused by an infection in the area that disrupts the blood supply, leading to an immune response and inflammation. Medication to treat the internal hemorrhoids will cause symptoms to clear up. If left untreated, internal hemorrhoids can turn into ulcers. This will only happen if there is repeated irritation to the area. When this ulceration does happen, it can be even more painful but also increases the risk of having blood in the stool. If bleeding is left untreated, the person may develop anemia.

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    Treatment of Symptoms

    While internal hemorrhoids can be quite painful for most people, the pain can be relieved by over-the-counter remedies that can be purchased to bring soothing relief. The main mechanism behind an over-the-counter remedy would be to reduce the inflammation, pain and redness that the person experiences. Application is through the use of a cream or suppository that can be applied to the affected area, and contains a substance that produces an analgesic effect. Eating a high fiber diet and drinking plenty of water can help to prevent future hemorrhoids.

    For some people hemorrhoids can be quite severe and they will need surgery to correct it. The surgeon will have to go in and clamp the blood flow to the vessels by doing it in such a way as to not destroy or stop the blood flow to the intestine. Internal hemorrhoids are not life threatening and recovery is possible for at least 50 percent of patients, simply by using over-the-counter medication.