Hemorrhoids has been derived from a Greek word ‘haima’ meaning blood and ‘rhoos’ meaning flowing. Each of us have veins around the anus that tend to stretch under pressure. An increased pressure within the abdomen (due to repeated straining at stool, pressure of fetus during pregnancy, obesity etc.) may cause blood to stagnate and collect in the blood vessels causing them to swell and bulge out of the anal opening (opening through which stool passes). These swollen veins are called piles or hemorrhoids.
Rectum & Anal Canal
The rectum (‘rectum’ means ‘straight’) and the anus form the last part of the digestive system. The rectum is a small, straight muscular tube approx. 5 inches long, which forms the lowest part of the large intestine. It acts as a reservoir for the stool. The stool finally passes through the anal canal and is expelled from the body through an opening called the anus. The anal canal consists of 2 sphincters (muscular valves): internal sphincter and an external sphincter. Both of these sphincters help to keep the stool in the rectum till they can be eliminated, during which process these sphincters open up and allow the passage of stools.
Piles (hemorrhoids) are usually caused due to increased pressure in the abdomen generally seen in the elderly, pregnant women, and obese individuals. By the age of 50 almost half of the population develop hemorrhoids to some extent.