Hemorrhoids: What Are They?
Hemorrhoids are a medical term for abnormally enlarged veins in the rectum and the anus. Medical professionals classify hemorrhoids in several ways, including by grade and by their location on the body. The main varieties are called external and internal hemorrhoids.
Internal hemorrhoids form and do their damage from the inside of the body. They are blood vessels that normally help the body to contain gas and solid waste. Under certain circumstances, these blood vessels become abnormally enlarged and irritated. Over time, they can grow to the point where they interfere with waste-elimination functions, and may even become so large that they eventually protrude completely through the anal opening.
Physicians classify hemorrhoids in easy-to-understand grades.
- Grade 1: These kinds of hemorrhoids rarely cause pain but may bleed occasionally. They also stay completely inside the rectum at all times.
- Grade 2: Grade 2 hemorrhoids also cause bleeding, but may occasionally become so engorged that they force their way through the anus. Known as prolapses, these protruding hemorrhoids usually return to their previous positions without any outside help.
- Grade 3: Hemorrhoids of this grade may also prolapse, but may not return to their original positions unless manual force is applied.
- Grade 4: Grade 4 hemorrhoids are the most serious type, and may remain outside the body unless medical professionals intervene.