The Circulatory System and Hemorrhoids

Posted May 1st, 2008 by Don

How the circulatory system works

Gaining a basic understanding of the circulatory system is integral to understanding where hemorrhoids come from and how they work.

The circulatory system feeds oxygenated blood to the entire body through arteries, and conveys cellular waste to the kidneys and blood back to the heart through veins.

While a small amount of the entire body’s supply of blood is moving quickly, under high pressure, through the arteries at all times, blood frequently remains in veins for an extended period of time as a storage mechanism.

Due to this, most veins have the ability to swell and contract much more than arteries do, in addition to being much nearer the surface of the body.

Between arteries and veins blood flows through a dense network of tiny arterioles and capillaries, which are both sufficiently numerous and small enough to ensure that every living cell in the body recieves the nourishment that blood provides and has the chance to eliminate cellular waste.

The area right around the anal sphincter, both inside and directly outside of the anal canal is one of the most vein dense areas of the body.

In addition to performing the basic function of blood circulation, the veins in this area also help with bowel control and bodily cushioning by swelling or contracting the hemorrhoidal cushions.

Due to the high volume of blood hemorrhoidal and anal veins are capable of holding, in addition to their location below the heart, these blood vessels both dilate to a proportionally large degree and can hold relatively unmoving blood for quite a long time.

If one of these veins is stretched beyond its capacity to contract due to muscular strain on the blood vessel itself, lack of upward support from the muscles of the pelvic floor, or loss of elasticity due to age or poor lifestyle, a hemorrhoid is caused.

If the vein in question lies within one of the hemorrhoidal cushions,  an internal hemorrhoid is caused, while if the vein in question runs below the anal canal to the exterior of the body prior to returning to the heart, an external hemorrhoid is caused.

Because this area is so incredibly dense with various sizes of blood vessel, hemorrhoids come in quite the array of sizes, ranging from the size of a pea to closely resembling a large grape.

Because blood moves so slowly through this area, and any hemorrhoid represents an extra bend in a vein where blood tends to sit for long periods, hemorrhoids are particularly prone to developing blood clots.

Any blood clot internal to the circulatory system is known as a thrombosis, and these can have some quite unfortunate side effects.

They are created by platelets, the same blood factors that create beneficial scabs on a wound.

When blood clots are created in inappropriate places, such as inside a working vein or withing a hemorrhoid, they can block local blood flow. If a clot is large enough to block or impede the heart, the result is a heart attack.

However, even when a thrombosis does not cause problems on such a severe and immediate scale, they’re still problematic when they block off smaller veins elsewhere in the body. If a blood clot blocks the flow of blood through a hemorrhoid, while the smaller veins surrounding the clot may be able to keep up for a while, inflammation, pain, and local toxicity are sure to result.

The blocked vein is not doing its job to carry away cellular wastes, which instead just sit there, seeping back into tissues and causing great aggravation.

If a hemorrhoid develops a thrombosis, a doctor needs to see it immediately so it can be adequately dealt with before causing irreparable harm to the body.

However, to help prevent thrombosis in a current hemorrhoid, do things to get your circulation going again such as frequent walks, eating well, drinking enough water, doing stretches and so on.

By increasing your circulation, you’ll stand a better chance of avoiding thrombosis and will give your hemorrhoid a chance to heal without further complications. In addition, contributing to your overall circulatory health may help you live a longer, happier, hemorrhoid-free life.


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