Knowing the Difference Between Types of Hemorrhoids

Many people are embarrassed to discuss hemorrhoids, but they’re very common and nothing to feel awkward about. Hemorrhoids affect approximately 1 in 20 Americans and are more common as you get older. In fact, half of people over the age of 50 will experience hemorrhoids. 

If you have symptoms of hemorrhoids, it’s wise to discuss it with one of our gastroenterologists at Illinois Gastroenterology Group. There are different types of hemorrhoids but most importantly, all hemorrhoids are treatable.

What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are enlarged blood vessels in and around the rectum and anus. They’re similar to varicose veins that often develop on the legs. Everyone has an intricate group of veins, arteries, and connective tissues in the rectal area. They’re referred to as hemorrhoids when the veins and surrounding tissue become swollen.

Who is at risk for hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids are more likely to occur when there is increased pressure in the anus and rectum. You’re at an increased risk of getting hemorrhoids if you:

Types of hemorrhoids

There are two types of hemorrhoids: internal and external.

Internal hemorrhoids

Internal hemorrhoids develop inside the rectum and are often painless. People with internal hemorrhoids may be unaware of their presence, unless they grow in size. Large internal hemorrhoids can cause discomfort from burning, itching, and pain.

Internal hemorrhoids can protrude from the anus. When this happens, they’re referred to as prolapsed hemorrhoids. We classify internal hemorrhoids on a grading scale:

External hemorrhoids

When people think of hemorrhoids, external hemorrhoids are more likely to come to mind. These are visible lumps that you can feel at the anus. External hemorrhoids are much more likely to cause discomfort. You may experience pain when sitting and during bowel movements, as well as itching and burning. The pain can be significant depending on the size of the hemorrhoids.

What are thrombosed hemorrhoids?

Both internal or external hemorrhoids can become thrombosed, which means they contain a blood clot. This is a complication that can cause more severe symptoms. You may experience significant discomfort, swelling, and redness as well as intense pain and itching. 

With rapid treatment, you can avoid further complications. While thrombosed hemorrhoids are often very tender and extremely painful, they aren’t life-threatening. But without treatment, damage to surrounding tissue as well as blood loss may occur.

Getting relief from hemorrhoids

If you have symptoms of hemorrhoids, it’s best to seek medical evaluation and treatment from a gastroenterologist. Our specialists at Illinois Gastroenterology Group have extensive experience diagnosing and treating conditions that affect the digestive system, including hemorrhoids. We can perform the necessary evaluation and recommend a treatment plan to help you get relief. 

To get started, call the office nearest you to schedule an appointment. We have office locations in Elgin, South Elgin, and Lake in the Hills. New and existing patients can also request an appointment online using our web form.

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