What is Piles?

There is a group of veins in the anal region which help in the bowel movement. This group of veins or a single swollen vein is called Haemorrhoid. Haemorrhoids are enlarged or swollen blood vessels or veins in the anal region [the rectum] which when inflamed or swollen may cause bleeding during passing of stool. This condition is known as Piles.

What happens in Piles?

In Piles, there is great difficulty in passing of stool which is often accompanied by bleeding. The veins in the anal region swell due to some reason and cause discomfort in the anal region. Some veins or the blood vessels lie deep inside the rectum and some of them lie near the rectum. They are moist, pink pads of skin. Based on their location, Piles or Haemorrhoids can be of 2 types:

1. Internal Haemorrhoid
2. External Haemorrhoid

What is the difference between these 2 types of Piles?

Internal Haemorrhoid: Are swollen blood vessels or haemorrhoids which lie far inside the rectum where you cannot feel or see them. Bleeding is the only sign to feel their presence and sometimes they come out and can be seen to recede on their own and sometimes, can be pushed back gently inside the rectum.

External Haemorrhoids: Lie within the anus or rectum and are uncomfortable and cause pain. One can see them when they become enlarged and lapse out along with the stools. They may cause deep pain or Thrombosis and can become purple in colour but haemorrhoids are not a serious condition and can be treated.

What are the complications of Piles/Haemorrhoids?

Piles or Haemorrhoids if left undetected or untreated may cause more discomfort and bleeding.

Normally any bleeding indicates Piles or Haemorrhoids but correct diagnosis should be made to rule out any other cause of bleeding like colitis or colorectal cancer.

What causes Piles/Haemorrhoids?

The causes include:

  • Weakening of veins which may be due to age or inherited

  • Diet

  • Constipation

  • Certain physical activities which increase pressure on the veins. For example, long periods of sitting or standing, obesity, pregnancy, coughing, sneezing etc.

What are the symptoms of Piles/Haemorrhoids?

The symptoms include:

  • Bright red bleeding from the anus during or after the bowel movement

  • Tenderness or pain during bowel movement or passing of stool

  • Painful swelling or lump near the anus

  • Itching in the anal region

  • Mucous anal discharge

How is piles diagnosed clinically?

The doctor may ask you about the symptoms you experience followed by a physical examination of the anal area. He may also do a colonoscopy for accurate results and to rule out other conditions. X-Rays’ and other imaging tests may be made for confirmation.

The family doctor, Gynaecologist, Obstetrician, or a General Surgeon or Proctologist may treat Piles.

Can Piles/Haemorrhoids be prevented and cured?

Piles is a very common condition and can affect anybody.

Avoiding of causes may help in the betterment of the condition. Since the major cause of Piles is constipation which involves exerting of pressure, try and have a diet which is full of Fibre and drink lots of water. Avoid being constipated. Good hygiene is also an important part of the treatment.

Sedentary lifestyle should be discarded and a healthy lifestyle will promote good health. Light exercise and good diet help in preventing the worsening of the symptoms. Diet is both prevention as well as cure.

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