Hemorrhoids are cushions of swollen tissue and blood vessels in the lower rectal area. Hemorrhoids are classified as either “internal” or “external.” External hemorrhoids can cause itching, swelling, and pain, whereas internal hemorrhoids can cause bleeding, itching, swelling, and eventually prolapse (loose tissue that bulges outside of the anus). Hemorrhoids can be caused by a number of things, including constipation, straining, pregnancy, etc.
Patients with external hemorrhoids often report discomfort or pain, especially during bowel movements. Symptoms may only flare up every few weeks – making it hard to tell whether your discomfort is actually hemorrhoid-related in the first place. Many of those with external disease also have symptomatic internal hemorrhoids (more information below). While only a licensed physician can give you a proper diagnosis, here are a few of the symptoms that usually indicate an external hemorrhoid problem:
Mild, but consistent, itching around the rectal area.
Pain around the anal area, ranging from mild to severe.
Swelling around the anus.
Symptoms of internal hemorrhoids vary depending on their severity. Small internal hemorrhoids may only cause some light bleeding, however, when the hemorrhoid tissue begins to prolapse, or protrude outside the anus, you may start to notice itching, swelling, and even soiling (all due to that loosened tissue).