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Haemorrhoids (piles) occur when blood vessels inside or around the anus (the opening of your bottom) become enlarged. It can be very uncomfortable, so don’t get caught out.
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Hemorrhoids. The right clinical information, right where it's needed’.
Piles (Haemorrhoids) | Internal & External Piles | Symptoms, Causes and Treatment.
Review of Hemorrhoid Disease: Presentation and Management. Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery, 29(01), pp.022–029.
Prevalence and associated factors of hemorrhoids among adult patients visiting the surgical outpatient department in the University of Gondar Comprehensive Specialized Hospital, Northwest Ethiopia. PLOS ONE, 16(4), p.e0249736.
Your anus is lined with spongy tissue which helps it to close after defecation (emptying your bowels). These tissues are filled and supplied with tiny blood vessels.
Haemorrhoids, or piles as they are commonly known, happen when these spongy tissues enlarge and form small, round discoloured lumps. They are uncomfortable for the individual concerned and can often lead to bleeding. They are usually around the anus, or inside the anal canal (the short muscular tube connecting the rectum to the anus) where they may drop down and need to be gently pushed back in.
Anyone can suffer from haemorrhoids, but there are certain factors which usually increase the likelihood of you developing them. Generally they are most common in the 45 – 65 age group. They’re more prevalent amongst pregnant women, where increased pressure on the pelvic blood vessels can cause them to enlarge, leading to haemorrhoids.
Other factors that can increase the risk of developing haemorrhoids include:
Although we can’t be too precise as to how common piles are because many are small and never seen by a clinician, it’s estimated that up to 50% of people in the UK alone will at some point suffer from piles to one degree or another . In the US around 4% of the population report suffering from haemorrhoids at any given time , and it’s been estimated to affect 4.4% of the population worldwide .
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The exact cause of haemorrhoids is uncertain, but they are associated with an increase in pressure in the blood vessels in the anal and rectal areas. This pressure can then cause the blood vessels to become swollen and inflamed, developing into a pile.
There are various symptoms of haemorrhoids which may vary from one person to the next, and some people may not notice symptoms.
More obvious symptoms may include the following:
If you have haemorrhoids which are causing you pain, which aren’t healing, or that become infected, you may require a procedure to remove them. These procedures may be surgical or non-surgical. If you experience any rectal bleeding, you should always get this checked out to rule out any more potentially serious underlying issues.
Our clinician can discuss any concerns you may have with you, and advise you on the best course of action to help with your haemorrhoids.
Haemorrhoid symptoms sometimes settle down after a few days, without needing any specific treatment. Making simple dietary and lifestyle changes to ease or avoid constipation, along with not straining on the toilet, can help to ease symptoms. But if your symptoms persist, there are different treatment options available which can be provided in various forms.
Creams, ointments and suppositories (which are inserted into your bottom) are available which will help to relieve any itching, swelling and discomfort suffered. These medicines should only be used for a few days at a time as they may irritate the skin if they’re used for longer.
If you have constipation and/or are experiencing hard stools, there are treatments available which will help with this and also to soften your poo. Cold packs can also be used to help ease any discomfort. There is no evidence to suggest that one treatment is more effective than another. It’s often a matter of personal preference. If you experience no improvement after using home treatments, you should always seek the advice of a clinician as hospital treatment may be required.
In short, no. As this can vary widely from person to person and also on the duration and severity of your symptoms. In some instances, haemorrhoids will clear up on their own after a short period without treatment or a clinical intervention. Lifestyle choices should always be taken into account as making simple changes such as increasing fibre intake and drinking more water can help too.
Often haemorrhoids will settle after a few days. This, together with making lifestyle improvements, will often reduce the number of repeat episodes, or stop them completely. Taking measures to reduce constipation such as increasing your diet in fibre rich foods like fruit, vegetables, legumes, (peas, pulses, beans) nuts and whole grains, together with drinking plenty of water (2 litres a day) will certainly help. Try not to strain when you go to the toilet and afterwards, gently clean around the anus with water and pat dry.
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