What Are Haemorrhoids?
Haemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels around the anus. They can be painful, can bleed, and can interfere with the ability to pass bowel motions normally.
Symptomatic haemorrhoids are a common condition, with over 5% of all people having problematic haemorrhoids at some stage.
Why do we have haemorrhoids?
Haemorrhoids are in fact a normal part of our anatomy, and even have a function in contributing to anal continence. Haemorrhoids are small swellings made up of tiny blood vessels just inside the anus. After passing a bowel motion, our haemorrhoids fill with a small amount of blood and meet in the middle, helping to close our anus and prevent leakage. It is thought that they contribute to about 20% of our resting anal continence.
How do Haemorrhoids become a problem?
The tissue inside haemorrhoids is elastic, and so long term straining or constipation can result in the normal haemorrhoid tissue becoming stretched and expanded. This can cause the haemorrhoids to prolapse (sit in an abnormal location outside of the anus) or produce bleeding. This is typically fresh red blood, found only on the toilet paper, but it may drip into the toilet bowl as well. This type of bleeding, however, is not diagnostic of haemorrhoids and a proper evaluation by a surgeon is required to ensure there is no other cause.
What is a Thrombosed Haemorrhoid?
Occasionally haemorrhoids can enlarge to the point that they become stuck outside the anus. This can lead to “thrombosis” or clotting of the blood in them, which results in severe pain and will often lead to a presentation to the emergency department. These “haemorrhoidal crises” can take 2-3 weeks for the pain to settle down.
Other Haemorrhoid Symptoms
Other symptoms that haemorrhoids can cause include itch around the anus, mucus leakage or concern about the appearance of the anus.
Treatment of Haemorrhoids
Haemorrhoids themselves are not life-threatening and the treatment offered depends on the severity of their symptoms and the patients’ main concern. Some patients simply want an assessment and reassurance there is no more sinister cause of their symptoms.
Other patients may be very bothered by their haemorrhoids and for these people there are many options:
- Non-surgical management
- Rubber Band Ligation
- HET – Haemorrhoid Energy Therapy
- THD – Transanal Haemorrhoidal Dearterilization
Dr Ramsay will discuss with you your concerns, examine you and advise you on the most suitable option to treat your concerns.