Hemorrhoids are an increasingly common issue nowadays, although there are still many misconceptions surrounding this condition. For instance, passing bloody stools does not always point solely to hemorrhoids as this symptom could also be caused by an intestinal polyp or an undiscovered tumor in the colon.
The anus contains a large number of tiny blood vessels and, when the blood vessels in and around the anus become swollen or inflamed as the muscle connected the anus relaxes, it results in hemorrhoids developing. These can develop in a cluster or in several distinct areas. As such, hemorrhoids are generally classified into two main types, as follows:
These develop on the inside of the rectum and usually involve swollen blood vessels that are generally invisible on the outside and impossible to feel by hand, meaning that a colonoscopy is normally required to diagnose them. Such hemorrhoids are classified into the following 4 distinct stages according to their size (from smallest to largest):
Stage 1: These hemorrhoids are tiny and do not protrude from the rectum whatsoever, although they may cause bleeding during or after a bowel movement.
Stage 2: These hemorrhoids expand, protruding from the anus during bowel movements, before returning to their original position as the muscles contract upon completion of the bowel movement. They cause more frequent bleeding, with this blood often bright red in color.
Stage 3: These hemorrhoids are large and protrude from the anus during bowel movements, and fail to return to their original position without being pushed back in by the patient. These hemorrhoids lead to frequent bleeding and significant irritation.
Stage 4: At this stage, the hemorrhoids are quite large, protruding from the anus at all times, with the distinct possibility of severe pain that disturbs the daily life of the sufferer.
This type of hemorrhoid develops on the outside of the anus due to swelling of the blood vessels located in this region. They are visible from the outside and can be felt by hand, while they tend to become more painful when inflamed.
Nevertheless, it is quite common for patients to experience both internal and external hemorrhoids at the same time.
The fact that the symptoms of hemorrhoids and tumors are so similar to those associated with colon cancer means that an expert medical diagnosis should be undertaken in order to identify the condition accurately before appropriate treatment. Such a diagnosis is essential at present due to the risk that colon cancer poses to young people as well as the elderly. It is therefore crucial to be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
Treatment for hemorrhoids depends entirely on the type and severity of each case, although treatment generally takes one of the following two forms:
1. Non-surgical treatment: This option is used when treating stage 1 and 2 hemorrhoids – which are not yet large in size. There are many non-surgical techniques that can be used, as follows:
2. Surgical treatment: Suitable for treatment of stage 3 and 4 internal hemorrhoids.
Should you experience any of the symptoms mentioned here and those symptoms do not improve but instead deteriorate, it is highly recommended that you seek medical diagnosis at your earliest opportunity. This will ensure that any disorder can be identified at the outset, thereby giving any subsequent treatment a much higher chance of success.
The Liver and Digestive Institute at Samitivej Hospital, Bangkok has displayed a continued commitment to raising the level of treatment we provide. We have entered into a partnership with Sano Hospital, a leading hospital from Japan noted for its high level of expertise in the field of digestive endoscopic procedures, as well as in the analysis of the digestive mucosal wall, especially through image enhanced endoscopy.