The symptoms of hemorrhoids can differ depending on whether a person has internal or external hemorrhoids.
Pain in the rectum or anus is often the first sign that you may have external hemorrhoids or an associated condition, such as an anal fissure. Piles can cause significant pain when the tissue is inflamed and swollen due to the relatively high number of nerves in the area. You may notice the pain is worse during a bowel movement* since the stool passing through puts pressure on the hemorrhoids.
*If you only experience pain during bowel movements, be sure to investigate possible other causes. These causes may be as minor as anal fissures or as serious as colon cancer.
If you notice a small amount of blood on the toilet paper after a bowel movement or see blood in your stool, this may be a sign of hemorrhoids. This blood will typically be bright red in color. This indicates that the blood hasn’t traveled far outside its normal pathways and is a good indication of piles or anal fissures somewhere in the lower anal cavity.
Bleeding can also be an indication of more serious conditions. For example, excessive amounts of bright red blood in the stool may indicate colitis, diverticulitis or colon cancer. Dark red blood in the stool, known as occult bleeding, may also be an indication of colon cancer. If you’re not sure what’s causing your bleeding, you should check with your doctor to determine whether further screening is appropriate. If you suspect you may have colon cancer, early detection is key to treating it effectively.
An itchy feeling in the rectum is one of the most common and irritating hemorrhoid symptoms. Itching or burning from hemorrhoids tends to be the worst just after a bowel movement. Itching can be caused by mucus discharge that comes from prolapsed hemorrhoids. This mucus irritates the skin and can cause even greater irritation when mixed with stool.
It may be tempting to clean the area to provide temporary relief, but adding moisture to the area or using cleansers that alter the pH can sometimes make matters worse. Additionally, you should avoid scratching the location, as this could cause you to break the skin. Broken skin in the rectum puts you at risk of developing an infection.
By definition, piles are swollen hemorrhoids. This means many hemorrhoid sufferers experience swelling in the anal area that they can feel. This swelling is caused by rubbing and irritation of the prolapsing tissue. Keep in mind that if you feel a lump on the rectum and have a fever, you could have an abscess. If you don’t have a fever, it’s more likely that your swelling is from a hemorrhoid.
In some instances, hemorrhoids will prolapse, meaning they come down through the anal canal and protrude outside the rectum. This tends to happen when piles have become more severe and advanced. Straining to move stools can cause a hemorrhoid to prolapse.