DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Haemorrhoids and rectal polyp. Close-up of swollen veins (haemorrhoids or piles) protruding from the anus of a 75-year-old woman. A polyp (red, centre) is also seen. The anus is the external opening of the rectum, the final part of the digestive tract from which faeces are expelled. Straining to expel hard faeces, places pressure on the veins in the lining of the rectum, causing them to swell. They can rupture and bleed during defecation, and cause pain. A lack of fibre and water in the diet makes haemorrhoids more likely. Ointments can reduce the swelling, but severe cases require surgery. Polyps are benign growths on mucous membranes. However, they can turn cancerous and should be removed.
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