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Haemorrhoids are enlarged blood vessels around the anus.

The haemorrhoidal veins are located in the lowest area of the rectum and the anus. Sometimes they swell so that the vein walls become stretched, thin, and irritated by passing bowel movements. There are two forms of haemorrhoids internal and external.

Internal Haemorrhoids

Internal haemorrhoids are enlargements of the normal cushions of blood vessels and lie inside the back passage where the rectum joins the anus. They are rarely painful as there are few pain-sensing nerves in the rectum. Bleeding may be the only sign that they are there. When internal haemorrhoids enlarge they may come down through the anus, this is called a prolapse. Prolapsed haemorrhoids usually recede back into the rectum on their own, if they do not they can be gently pushed back in.

External Haemorrhoids

External haemorrhoids are on the outside of the rectum and are often enlarged due to the stretching of the anal skin. External haemorrhoids often cause discomfort and itchiness and can become quite painful if a clot forms in blood vessels under the skin. These are called thrombosed haemorrhoids.

Haemorrhoids can be caused by the following factors:
  • pregnancy and childbirth
  • obesity
  • straining to pass a bowel motion due to constipation
  • chronic coughing
  • vomiting
  • age