What are Internal and External Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoid symptoms and pain-free removal procedure in Wheaton and DuPage County

Hemorrhoids are a collection of swollen tissue and blood vessels in the lower rectum or anus. Hemorrhoids affect more than half the adult population, usually after age 30. They may be caused by constipation, pregnancy and childbirth, being overweight, lifting heavy objects, and prolonged periods of sitting.

There are two types of hemorrhoids, either internal hemorrhoids or external hemorrhoids. The treatment recommended will be dependent upon the type diagnosed. If you are unsure which type of hemorrhoid you have, a physical exam with Dr. Drost at his Wheaton office will confirm the type and what treatment options are best for you.  Over the counter remedies such as a creams, suppositories and warm baths can offer temporary relief from the symptoms of hemorrhoids. Unfortunately for many people, hemorrhoids do not go away. Over time, they can get progressively worse, growing in both size and number. Internal hemorrhoids are typically painless, occurring inside the lower rectum. 

Internal hemorrhoids

Symptoms may include small amounts of bright red blood or a feeling of pressure following a bowel movement. On occasion, internal hemorrhoids can push through the anus. These are known as prolapsing hemorrhoids. Prolapsed hemorrhoids may reduce (go back inside) spontaneously or they may have to be manually reduced (pushed back in). This can lead to enlarged external hemorrhoids, and possibly skin tags. In most cases, removing the internal hemorrhoids relieves external symptoms, but patients may request the skin tags to be removed. 

External hemorrhoids

External hemorrhoids are lumps around the anus that can be particularly painful due to engorged blood vessels. Common symptoms can include pain, especially when sitting, bleeding and itching around the anus. Occasionally, blood clots can form within the hemorrhoid causing a thrombosed hemorrhoid which is often extremely painful.

The less common of the two forms, external hemorrhoids are often incorrectly self-diagnosed because many people mistake internal hemorrhoids — or the skin tags they can produce—for external hemorrhoids. Treatment for external hemorrhoids varies depending upon the severity of each case. Infrequent flare ups may require an over-the-counter solution such as cream for relief.

However, increased pain and symptoms can be treated with hemorrhoid removal procedures performed in our office.  Surgery is needed only in the most severe cases and is not usually necessary. It is important to note that often patients complaining of "external" issues are actually bothered by the "internal component" of their hemorrhoids. It is for this reason that approximately 90% of patients with "external" complaints are actually helped by rubber band ligation of their "internal" hemorrhoids.