Hemorrhoid glossary

Hemorrhoids: 10 Terms to Know

Hemorrhoids are not only uncomfortable condition, they’re an uncomfortable topic too. Constipation, diarrhea, pregnancy, obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and lack of fiber can all cause hemorrhoids by placing too much strain on the veins in the rectum and anus. Inflammation, itching, pain, and discomfort often result, occasionally leading to serious cases. While some can be dealt with fairly easily, others require more extreme methods. Here are ten terms to help make sense out of hemorrhoids. 

  1. Internal hemorrhoid: When the strained veins are inside the rectum, it’s considered an internal hemorrhoid. You can’t see them, and there’s often very little discomfort. Bright colored blood on toilet paper or in the toilet may be the only sign, but if your bowel movements have been difficult or prolonged, that can be a key indicator that you need some help.
  2. Prolapsed hemorrhoid: When internal hemorrhoids are allowed to carry on without treatment, you may continue straining. Eventually, this can actually push the hemorrhoid outside the anus, resulting in a prolapsed hemorrhoid. At this point, what was a mild case can become extremely painful and difficult to deal with. 
  3. External hemorrhoid: When the swollen vein is under the skin of the anus on the outside, you have an external hemorrhoid. These are often much more painful, as well as being easier to irritate, which can cause them to bleed frequently. 
  4. Thrombus: A thrombus is a spot in the vein where blood pools and clots. This is the red bump you may see or feel when experiencing external hemorrhoids. Thrombi are very painful, along with being itchy, unsightly, and embarrassing. Once a thrombus forms, it can take a very long time to go away.
  5. Strangulated hemorrhoid: Strangulated hemorrhoids can be extremely dangerous. With all the strain and inflammation of the rectal veins, the blood flow of an internal hemorrhoid can be cut off. When this happens, it’s not only quite painful, but the tissue around it can actually die off, causing gangrene. 
  6. Sitz bath: Some sufferers of hemorrhoids find that a warm bath provides relief. It can be a painful to get in and out of the bathtub for ten minutes a few times a day, which makes sitz baths a nice alternative. They are a small tub, shaped roughly like a toilet seat. You can fill them with warm water and submerge only the thighs and buttocks, allowing for a quick respite without all the to-do of a complete bath. 
  7. Phenylephrine: Most over the counter hemorrhoid creams are made of mineral oil, petroleum jelly, and phenylephrine. It may seem strange to use a decongestant, but phenylephrine is actually a vasoconstrictor, thus it works to reduce swollen blood vessels. It’s not a cure, but it can provide relief, especially for mild or occasional cases of hemorrhoids.
  8. Sclerotherapy: If over-the-counter treatments aren't working for you, your doctor may recommend sclerotherapy. This is a noninvasive procedure that can sometimes be used instead of surgical options. A doctor provides an injection directly into the hemorrhoid. The injected chemical then shrinks the hemorrhoid.  
  9. Rubber band ligation: This is the most effective of the minimally invasive procedures, in which tiny rubber bands are stuck on the hemorrhoids. The blood supply is purposefully cut off to only the hemorrhoidal tissue, and slowly it withers away until it falls off. Although it usually works very well, it can be more uncomfortable than some of the other procedures. 
  10. Hemorrhoidectomy: A hemorrhoidectomy is the surgical removal of hemorrhoids. A sedative and local anesthetic may be used, or the patient may be knocked completely out. Different methods may be used, depending on the patient’s needs, and while most people experience a few days of a pain and occasional urinary tract difficulties, hemorrhoidectomies are the only sure fire way to make sure you get rid of hemorrhoids. 
Last Updated: January 29, 2016