Internal hemorrhoids can occur when there is increased pressure within the internal hemorrhoidal veins. This extra pressure can result in symptoms such as anal discomfort and bright-red blood appearing on the stool or on toilet paper. Factors that can increase a person's risk of developing this condition include straining to move stool, obesity, and a high-fat, low-fiber diet. Treatment strategies usually involve dietary changes and modified bowel habits. In cases where these changes do not relieve symptoms, surgery may be recommended.
What Are Internal Hemorrhoids?
The term "hemorrhoids" refers to a condition in which the veins around the anus or lower rectum are swollen and inflamed. Several groups of veins surround the rectum and anus -- one group is known as internal hemorrhoidal veins, the others are known as external hemorrhoidal veins. As the name suggests, internal hemorrhoids affect the internal hemorrhoidal veins.
As mentioned, internal hemorrhoids are caused by increased pressure within the internal hemorrhoidal veins. A number of conditions can increase pressure within the internal hemorrhoidal veins. These include:
- Straining to move stool, or other poor bowel habits, such as sitting for long periods
- Chronic constipation or diarrhea
- Anal intercourse
- A high-fat, low-fiber diet.
(Click Causes of Hemorrhoids for more information.)
The most common symptom of internal hemorrhoids is bright-red blood covering the stool, on toilet paper, or in the toilet bowl.
Other symptoms may include feelings of:
- Vague anal discomfort
- Fullness after a bowel movement.
Pain is not a common symptom of internal hemorrhoids. However, an internal hemorrhoid may protrude through the anus outside the body, becoming irritated and painful. This is known as a protruding hemorrhoid. If not treated, a protruding internal hemorrhoid may remain outside the anus. In this case, a person may complain of constant soiling of underwear.