Did you know that we all have haemorrhoids (piles)?
Yes, that is right. We all have piles. A pile is normally a pillow-like cluster of veins in the rectum and anal canal which help us to control movements of the bowels and bladder (continence).1
When these veins become swollen and distended (inflamed), we call the condition piles. The usual causes for piles are constipation, straining when going to the toilet, and pregnancy.1,2
There are internal piles which occur inside the rectum and external piles which appear on the outside around of the anus.1
You may have piles if you experience any of the following symptoms:3,4
- Bleeding when passing stools
- Pain and itching around the anus
- Painful bulging tissue around the anus, or protruding out of the anus
- Leaking mucus or faeces from the anus
External piles are usually not painful, unless a clot has formed. External piles with a clot may lead to sudden and severe pain.
Internal piles are less painful but may bleed when you strain while passing stool.1,3
You may not experience all these symptoms, but if you do notice any of these signs, it would be best to speak to your healthcare professional.
How can you prevent and treat piles?
- Add more fibre to your diet to combat constipation
- Get more exercise
- Go to the toilet when you feel the need, do not wait
- Limit your time on the toilet
Treating the problem:
1. Regular sitz baths:
- A bath in which only the buttocks and hips are immersed in water.
- Soak the area in warm water for 10-15 minutes.
- Pat the area dry afterwards to prevent more itching, but do not wipe hard.
2. Topical treatments:
- Over the counter products contain local anaesthetics to help relieve the pain and itching.
- Products available on prescription contain local anaesthetics and a corticosteroid which help to reduce not only the pain, but also the inflammation and swelling as primary symptoms.
- Although these products are very effective, they may only be used for short-term treatment.
3. If no improvement:
- If the pile does not clear up, or becomes worse, you may need it to be removed by a doctor.
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1. Hemorrhoids and what to do about them. Harvard Health Publishing. [Online] 2019 Feb 6. [Cited 2020 Feb 26]. Available from https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/hemorrhoids_and_what_to_do_about_them.
2. Sandler RS, Peery AF. Rethinking What We Know About Hemorrhoids. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2019;17:8–15.
3. Mott, T. Latimer, K. Edwards, C. Hemorrhoids: Diagnosis and Treatment Options. Am Fam Physician. 2018;97(3):172-179.
4. Bleday R. Patient education: Hemorrhoids (Beyond the Basics). [Online] 2019 May 13. [Accessed 2019/06/07]. Available from: https://www.uptodate.com/contents/hemorrhoids-beyond-the-basics.
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