Have you ever noticed pain and irritation near the anus during diarrhea? The chances are that you are suffering from hemorrhoids. It is possible to develop different digestive disorders during hemorrhoids. This article will explain hemorrhoidal disease and the digestive problems that can accompany them.
Hemorrhoids or Piles refer to a very common anorectal disease. It is estimated that roughly half the U.S population suffers from hemorrhoids before the age of 50. The condition is marked by inflamed and dilated veins of the anus.
Hemorrhoids are caused by trauma and increased pressure in the rectum. This irritates and dilates the veins near the anal region. There are many causes of hemorrhoids that increase pressure inside the rectum.
Most commonly, prolonged sitting and straining during bowel movements increase intra-abdominal pressure causing stress to the anus. The pressure irritates the walls of the rectum, causing them to bulge. Similarly, other causes that contribute to the risk of developing hemorrhoids include the following:
- Chronic constipation and diarrhea
- Inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcers and Crohn’s disease
- Physical strain like heavyweight lifting
- Pregnancy and childbirth which exert pressure on the pelvis and rectum
- Anal intercourse
A vital factor in all this is old age. As we age, our muscles lose their elasticity. The gradual weakening of the rectal muscles combined with the abovementioned activities/conditions increases the risk of developing hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoids build either inside or outside the anus. The bundles of vessels are separated from each other in these regions. The internal veins can become inflamed to cause internal hemorrhoids, while the external veins can become swollen to cause external hemorrhoids.
Internal hemorrhoids are usually painless and cannot be seen unless they prolapse. Prolapsed hemorrhoids look like moist bumps that bulge from the anus. These are given four grades based on the severity and progression of symptoms. Grade III and IV hemorrhoids are typically treated through surgical means.
External hemorrhoids occur on the skin outside the anus and can be felt as hard swollen lumps. The clusters of veins have many innervated pain fibers that make this condition more painful than internal hemorrhoids. Moreover, these types of hemorrhoids can also develop blood clots and become thrombosed. Thrombosis can significantly increase the pressure inside the swollen bumps and make them extremely painful.
Symptoms of Hemorrhoids
Most common symptoms include pain, itching or irritation of the anus, and rectal bleeding. Hemorrhoids may also become prolapsed and can be felt protruding from the anus. They will cause pain during bowel movements and sometimes obstruct the passage of stool.
Symptoms will sometimes differ for other types of hemorrhoids. For instance, thrombosed and external hemorrhoids might become strangulated due to lack of blood flow. Skin tags, perianal abscesses, and fistulas are some complications that might accompany external hemorrhoids.
Several types of digestive disorders like diarrhea and constipation can increase the risk of hemorrhoids, but are often overlooked due to the similarity in symptoms. The same can be said for rectal bleeding, which is a standard indicator in conditions like fissures, fistulas, and anorectal cancer.
Let's look at a few overlooked digestive disorders during hemorrhoids.
Crohn's disease is a bowel disorder that causes chronic inflammation and irritation in the digestive tract. This can cause diarrhea and cramping of the abdomen and requires treatment. Due to the stress Crohn's disease puts on the lower abdomen, individuals having the condition have a 50% risk of developing hemorrhoidal disease. Already affected individuals can experience the worsening of symptoms if they also have Crohn's disease.
Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Inflammatory bowel disease is a group of diseases causing inflammation of the large intestine. The most common type of inflammatory bowel disease is colitis. It can cause infections, inflammation, irritation, and obstructed blood flow in the colon.
There are many types of the disease, like infectious colitis, ischemic colitis, and radiation colitis, but ulcerative colitis is commonly associated with hemorrhoids.
Ulcerative colitis elicits abnormal immune responses from the body that cause ulcers and inflammation of the inner lining of the large intestine. It can lead to diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, and strenuous bowel movements.
You might have noticed that these are all similar to the causes and symptoms of hemorrhoids. Since these factors strain the anus and increase intra-abdominal pressure, they can lead to Piles. The condition can already be present but masked by hemorrhoidal disease because the symptoms are identical.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
It is a common anxiety-induced condition that causes abnormal muscular contractions of the colon. This leads to a variety of symptoms, including diarrhea, constipation, abdominal cramps, and gas. The contractions cause the build-up of pressure in the large intestine, leading to hemorrhoids or several other problems.
Important symptoms to manage in case of hemorrhoids are constipation and diarrhea, as they aggravate pain and irritation. Constipation also leads to forced bowel movements of dry stool that risks rupturing hemorrhoids and causing severe bleeding.
Diverticular disease is a rare colorectal digestive disorder that can develop due to extreme pressure in the large bowel. The risk of the condition increases when a person suffers from hemorrhoids. It causes the colon lining to push through weak spots in the bowel wall muscle. The condition rarely causes symptoms but can lead to severe infections in some cases.
These were some of the commonly experienced digestive disorders during hemorrhoids. They pose a severe health risk as they share many symptoms with hemorrhoidal disease. Many of these conditions can be prevented or treated with the help of simple remedies. Therefore, it is crucial to visit a colorectal doctor for prompt evaluation.