What are haemorrhoids?
Haemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lining of the lower part of the rectum and anus. They are caused by an increase in pressure within the rectum and anus such as during pregnancy, due to pressure of the enlarged uterus, and straining due to constipation.
This causes the swollen veins to become permanently dilated, swollen and inflamed. Haemorrhoids can be internal within the lining of the lower rectum and anal canal, or external, which surround the anus. Internal haemorrhoids are made up of blood vessels, supporting connective tissue and smooth muscle. They are usually pain free but can cause bleeding and may also become prolapsed when protrude into the anal canal and can cause problems. External haemorrhoids may also bleed if they become thrombosed, which is when there is bleeding within the haemorrhoid and the blood clots. External haemorrhoids may cause itching due to irritation of the surrounding skin, but this may also be due to rectal or anal fissures, which are small tears or cuts in the anal or rectal canal through which stools are passed. Muscle spasm is also a symptom of haemorrhoids, which can be painful.
Treatment for haemorrhoidsTreatments for haemorrhoids are available as an ointment applied to the anal area or as a suppository that is inserted into the rectum. Haemorrhoid treatments usually combine a corticosteroid anti-inflammatory, like fluocortolone or hydrocortisone, with a local anaesthetic, like cinchocaine, to treat the inflammation and pain associated with haemorrhoids. The corticosteroid inhibits the formation of inflammatory chemicals like interleukins that stimulate the formation of other inflammatory chemicals like prostaglandins. This reduces pain and swelling, associated with inflammation. The anaesthetic component acts locally to reduce pain, discomfort and itching.