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Haemorrhoids (piles): Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About haemorrhoids (piles)

Haemorrhoids also called piles are characterized by abnormally swollen and inflamed veins of the rectum and the anus. Both rectum and anus are the terminating parts of the digestive tract. Rectum is responsible for holding the waste of digested food till the time it is excreted out through the anus. Anus connects the digestive tract to the outside.

Haemorrhoids (piles): Incidence, age and sex

Haemorrhoids are a commonly encountered problem in the general population. Both men and women seem to be equally susceptible. Haemorrhoids may occur in an individual at any age. However, its chances increase with increasing age.

Signs and symptoms of haemorrhoids (piles): Diagnosis

Haemorrhoids can be of three types namely internal, external or prolapsed haemorrhoids. Internal haemorrhoids involve the inner veins of the rectum and manifest as painless bleeding. On the other hand, external haemorrhoids involve veins which are outside the anus and are usually characterized by pain and itching in the anal region. This may or may not be accompanied with bleeding. A prolapsed haemorrhoid is the term used for haemorrhoid which bulges outside the anal canal. Affected individuals may complain of tender bump on side of anus. The bleeding of haemorrhoids may be evident by presence of blood on toilet paper after bowel movement.

Such features need to be evaluated comprehensively by a specialist who may conduct a detailed physical examination including digital rectal examination. Investigations like proctoscopy, colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy may be done to rule out other pathological causes which may result in similar signs and symptoms.

Causes and prevention of haemorrhoids (piles)

Haemorrhoids are caused due to increased pressure in the veins of rectum and anus. This may result due to excessive and persistent straining, a sedentary lifestyle or sitting in the toilet for long periods. Persistent constipation or even diarrhoea may lead to haemorrhoids. Genetic susceptibility may also play a causative role. Haemorrhoids have higher chances of occurrence in individuals who are obese, pregnant and weight lifters.

Haemorrhoids can be effectively prevented by controlling diarrhoea and constipation. Consumption of fibre rich food like fruits and vegetables, taking adequate fluids and regular exercise may help in keeping constipation at bay.

Haemorrhoids (piles): Complications

Haemorrhoids if persistent, may lead to intense distress and discomfort to the affected individual. Very rarely it may lead to significant tears around anus and cause immense pain.

Haemorrhoids (piles): Treatment

Haemorrhoids are generally self-limiting and disappear on their own in most individuals. Painkiller drugs can be prescribed to relieve pain. Alternatively warm baths are also advised for pain relief. Haemorrhoidal creams may be advised to prevent itching and pain. Surgical intervention may be needed in a few individuals. This includes rubber band ligation for internal haemorrhoids and haemorrhoidectomy for large and prolapsed haemorrhoids. Sometimes, sclerotherapy may also be recommended wherein a chemical substance is injected in the haemorrhoids to eliminate them. However in most of the instances, haemorrhoids resolve on their own.