What Do Hemorrhoids Look Like?

Hemorrhoids are clumps of dilated (enlarged) blood vessels in the anus and lower rectum. The rectum is the last area of the large intestine before it exits to the anus. The anus is the end of the digestive tract where feces leaves the body.

Sometimes hemorrhoids swell when the veins enlarge and their walls become stretched, thin, and irritated by passing stool. Hemorrhoids are classified into two general categories:

  • internal, originating in the rectum, and
  • external, originating in the anus.
Hemorrhoids (also termed piles) have caused pain and irritation throughout human history. The word comes from Greek, “haimorrhoides,” meaning veins that are liable to discharge blood. If you've had a bout of hemorrhoid pain, you're not alone. It's estimated that three out of every four people will have hemorrhoids at some point in their lives. Even Napoleon suffered from hemorrhoids, which distracted him with severe pain during his defeat at Waterloo.

Enlarged Hemorrhoid Symptoms

Enlarged hemorrhoids are associated with symptoms such as

  • itching,
  • mucus discharge,
  • burning at the anus,
  • severe pain,
  • a sensation that the bowel is not really empty, and
  • bleeding without pain.