Piles or haemorrhoids are a common ailment of the digestive system. Although piles usually heal automatically in some time, their symptoms can be worrisome for people as seeing blood during or after their bowel movements may scare some of them. However, knowing about the disease can be helpful in managing the symptoms and avoiding any complications. Here, you will learn more about what are piles along with the causes and other relevant information of this condition.
What are piles and the types of piles?
Piles are haemorrhoids that occur in the anal region—inside and/or around the anus. In simple terms, haemorrhoids are blood vessels that are irritated and swollen; they might burst under excess pressure and bleed. Haemorrhoids can often be quite discomforting and painful and might even prevent you from going about your day. Generally, people with piles notice their condition improving with time after following a healthy lifestyle, but sometimes a doctor’s intervention is required to treat the condition.
There are different types of piles based on their location. Internal haemorrhoids occur inside the rectum (a muscular tube between large intestines and the anus), and external piles occur outside and/or around the anus. If the blood clots in a haemorrhoid, it becomes a thrombosed haemorrhoid.
Here is a list of some common symptoms of piles:
- Blood mixed with stool or in the toiled bowl
- Irritation, itching, discomfort, or pain in the anal region
- Swollen lumps that are sometimes hard inside the rectum (or colon) and/or around the anus
External haemorrhoids usually cause pain, itching, or discomfort, whereas internal haemorrhoids tend to be usually painless. However, a prolapsed haemorrhoid (which gets out of the rectum) may cause irritation and pain. You may feel like something is hanging out of your anus, and you may need to gently push the haemorrhoid back inside. Additionally, a thrombosed haemorrhoid can be extremely painful and difficult to deal with; it usually requires medical attention.
Since piles can occur due to numerous factors and heal on their own, your healthcare provider will usually recommend some treatment options to reduce symptoms including well-known home remedies.
It is important to get your condition diagnosed correctly by a medical professional as the symptoms of piles, including bleeding, often resemble those of some other conditions such as anal fissures, colony cancer, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis. But the diseases and consequently their treatments vary greatly. For example, anal fissures are caused by tears in the lining of your anus. All these diseases require a physical examination and/or additional tests for accurate diagnosis.
How common are haemorrhoids?
Almost 50% of the population is likely to experience piles by the age of 50. Although piles are a common condition amongst all the genders, most people are not aware about the disease. Thus, they don’t know the best way to prevent or mange it and when to seek medical attention.
The following group of people is most likely to develop a case of piles overtime:
- People who are overweight
- People who have a family history of piles
- People who regularly lift heavy objects
- People who eat a low-fibre diet
- People who have chronic diarrhoea or constipation
- People who spend an unusual amount of time on the toilet seat
- People who strain while having bowel movements
- Pregnancy is also a common cause of piles in females.
Causes of haemorrhoids
The major reason for piles is that veins around your anus stretch under pressure, and occasionally, they may swell or bulge. In other words, increased pressure in the lower rectum usually causes haemorrhoids due to any of the following:
- Excessive straining during bowel movements
If a person has prolonged constipation, they may develop a habit of pushing too hard while trying to poo. Besides, chronic diarrhoea can also cause abnormal pressure to be exerted on the blood vessels in the anal region due to repetitive bowel movements.
When a woman is pregnant, the baby in her womb grows taking up space and squeezing neighbouring organs. This ends up increasing the pressure on her rectum and anus as well.
Similar to pregnancy, the organs of an obese person are under additional pressure, which may lead to piles.
- Sitting on the toilet for too long
The seated position results in the organs in your pelvic region being constantly pressed, which can cause haemorrhoids in the anal region.
Haemorrhoids are quite common in the adult population over 50 years, but they can also occur in children and teenagers.
- Anal intercourse
This act may end up exerting additional pressure in the rectum and anus, causing the del=velopment of new haemorrhoids or worsening of existing ones. Anal intercourse is one of the causes of piles in males and females.
- Low-fibre diet
Fibre makes the stool soft and easy to pass; a person eating a low-fibre diet will naturally have difficulty during bowel movements. They may strain extra hard to pass the hard stool, which can cause haemorrhoids.
- Heavy lifting
A person who lifts heavy weight regularly is highly likely to develop piles. Although genetics may not be a cause for piles, it can increase the chances of a person developing piles.
High-risk individuals can follow these measures to lower the likelihood of getting piles:
- Avoid sitting on the toilet for too long, and do not push too hard while passing the stool.
- Drink adequate water, and eat a fibrous diet to soften the stool.
- Do some physical activity on a daily basis.
- Take laxatives or supplements to regulate bowel movements.
- Mange weight and maintain it in a healthy category according to the ideal BMI.
Outlook for people with piles
Piles or haemorrhoids are a common ailment of the digestive system that may require the person to make elemental changes to their lifestyle— increasing fibre in diet and exercising regularly. People with piles should avoid controlling the urge to poo and go to the toilet when the need arises to avoid worsening the symptoms. People who have piles can greatly benefit by doing such simple changes in their routine.
Piles are not a severe disease, but this condition `can be quite troublesome. There are numerous treatment options available, including home remedies and non-surgical options, that people can avail to alleviate symptoms.