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Are hemorrhoids dangerous?

A:

Quick Answer

Hemorrhoids are rarely dangerous, although they can be a painful and recurrent intrusion, according to Harvard Health Publications. External hemorrhoids are usually uncomfortable, while internal hemorrhoids are often painless.

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Full Answer

A lot of women encounter hemorrhoids temporarily during pregnancy, states Harvard Health Publications. Hemorrhoids occur more frequently by midlife. By age 50, around half the population has experienced the symptoms, which include rectal pain, itching and bleeding.

WebMD explains that hemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels of the rectum. The hemorrhoidal veins sometimes swell, causing the vein walls to become stretched, thin and irritated. Internal hemorrhoids often do not hurt, as there are few pain-sensing nerves inside the rectum. However, they sometimes prolapse, which means they enlarge and protrude outside the anal sphincter, and this causes pain. External hemorrhoids occur within the anus and are typically painful. When blood clots form within prolapsed external hemorrhoids, a person experiences a very painful condition called thrombosis. Although thrombosed external hemorrhoids cause pain, appear purplish or bluish, and possibly bleed, they are mostly not dangerous. Hemorrhoids are the top cause of anal bleeding. However, it is still important to see a health care professional, as anal bleeding and pain can indicate a life-threatening condition such as colorectal cancer.

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