What is Piles? It’s Symptoms, Causes, Prevention, and Treatment
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What is Piles? It’s Symptoms, Causes, Prevention, and Treatment

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Piles, also known as hemorrhoids or hemorrhoids, are a common condition that affects many people worldwide. It is estimated that up to 50% of the population will experience piles at some point in their lives. 

Despite its prevalence, piles can be a source of embarrassment and discomfort, causing people to avoid seeking medical help.

Piles usually occur when the blood vessels in the anus and rectum region become swollen and inflamed. It can occur in people of any age, but they are more common in adults aged 45 to 65 years old.

It is important to understand the condition because piles can cause a range of symptoms, such as bleeding, pain, itching, and discomfort. 

In severe cases, they can even lead to complications such as anemia, blood clots, or infection. Furthermore, piles can affect a person’s quality of life, causing them to miss work or social events.

Fortunately, we will be looking at the various treatment options for piles i this post, so keep reading.


Types of piles

Internal piles are located inside the rectum, and they usually don’t cause any pain or discomfort. However, they can bleed, and in some cases, they may prolapse, meaning they protrude outside the anus.

External piles, on the other hand, are located under the skin around the anus, and they can be painful and itchy. They may also bleed, especially during bowel movements.

Piles are often referred to as hemorrhoids or hemorrhoids, which is a more common term in the UK and other countries outside of the United States. 

Common symptoms of piles 

Piles can cause a range of symptoms, which can vary depending on the type and severity of the condition. Some of the common symptoms of piles include:

  1. Bleeding: Piles can cause bleeding during bowel movements, which may be bright red or dark in color. The bleeding is usually painless, and it occurs because the swollen blood vessels in the anal area can easily rupture.
  2. Pain: External piles can be painful, especially when sitting, standing, or during bowel movements. The pain may be throbbing, sharp, or aching, and it can range from mild to severe.
  3. Itching: Piles can cause itching in the anal area, which can be uncomfortable and persistent. The itching is usually caused by mucus discharge from the swollen blood vessels.
  4. Prolapse: In severe cases, internal piles can prolapse or protrude outside the anus. Prolapsed piles can cause pain, discomfort, and difficulty in cleaning the anal area.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is essential to seek medical attention. Although piles are usually not life-threatening, they can cause significant discomfort and distress, and in some cases, they can lead to complications such as anemia or infection. 

Your doctor can diagnose piles by examining the anus and rectum, and they may recommend further tests, such as a colonoscopy, to rule out other conditions.

In some cases, piles may resolve on their own with home remedies and lifestyle changes, such as increasing fiber intake, drinking plenty of fluids, and avoiding straining during bowel movements. 

However, if the symptoms persist or worsen, your doctor may recommend medical or surgical treatment to alleviate the discomfort and prevent complications.

Underlying factors that cause piles 

Piles are caused by various factors, and understanding the underlying causes can help in the prevention and management of the condition. Some of the common factors that contribute to the development of piles include:

  1. Straining during bowel movements: Straining during bowel movements can put pressure on the blood vessels in the anal area, causing them to swell and become inflamed.
  2. Constipation: Constipation can lead to hard stools, which can cause irritation and damage to the anal area during bowel movements.
  3. Pregnancy: The increased pressure on the rectal veins during pregnancy can lead to the development of piles.
  4. Obesity: Obesity can increase the pressure on the rectal veins and lead to the development of piles.
  5. Sitting or standing for prolonged periods: Sitting or standing for extended periods can impede blood flow to the rectal area, leading to the development of piles.

In addition to these factors, genetics can also play a role in the development of piles. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to weakened blood vessels or reduced blood flow to the rectal area, which can increase the risk of developing piles. 

Moreover, studies have shown that there is a higher incidence of piles in people with a family history of the condition.

However, it is important to note that genetics is not the sole cause of piles, and lifestyle factors also play a significant role. By making lifestyle changes such as eating a high-fiber diet, drinking plenty of fluids, exercising regularly, and avoiding straining during bowel movements, individuals can reduce their risk of developing piles, even if they have a genetic predisposition to the condition.

Lifestyle changes to prevent piles

Making lifestyle changes is an essential part of preventing and managing piles. Some of the tips for preventing piles include:

  1. Eating a high-fiber diet: A diet rich in fiber can soften the stool and make it easier to pass, reducing the risk of constipation and straining during bowel movements. So it is advisable to consume more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.
  2. Drinking plenty of fluids: Drinking enough fluids, especially water, can help soften the stool and prevent constipation. If it’s possible try to have at least about 8-10 glasses of water each day.
  3. Exercising regularly: Regular exercise can help improve digestion and prevent constipation. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day, this can include just taking a brisk walk or cycling.
  4. Avoiding straining during bowel movements: Straining during bowel movements can increase the pressure on the rectal veins, leading to the development of piles. When you go to the toilet, try to relax and take your time when passing defecating. Also, avoid holding your breath or pushing too hard.
  5. Maintaining good hygiene: Keeping the anal area clean and dry can help prevent infection and irritation. After bowel movements, use gentle, unscented wipes or toilet paper to clean the area, and avoid harsh soaps or perfumed products.

In addition to these lifestyle changes, maintaining good bowel habits is also essential for preventing piles. Some tips for good bowel habits include:

  1. Establishing a regular bowel routine: Try to have a bowel movement at the same time each day, preferably after meals when the digestive system is most active.
  2. Listening to your body: Pay attention to your body’s signals and go to the toilet when you feel the urge to have a bowel movement.
  3. Sitting in the correct position: To help facilitate bowel movements, sit on the toilet with your feet elevated on a small stool, and lean forward slightly.

By following these tips and making lifestyle changes, individuals can reduce their risk of developing piles and maintain good bowel habits. 

Also read: Posture Correction 101: Understanding the importance of good posture

Non-surgical treatments for piles,

There are several non-surgical treatments available for piles, including:

  1. Medications: Over-the-counter creams and ointments, such as hydrocortisone or witch hazel, can help relieve itching and pain associated with piles. Stool softeners and laxatives may also be prescribed to help prevent constipation.
  2. Sitz baths: Soaking the anal area in warm water for 10-15 minutes several times a day can help relieve pain and itching associated with piles.
  3. Rubber band ligation: This is a common non-surgical procedure for treating internal piles. A small rubber band is usually placed around the base of the pile, this will effectively cut off its blood supply thereby causing it to shrink and fall off.
  4. Injection therapy: A sclerosant solution is injected into the pile, causing it to shrink and disappear over time.

Surgical options for treating piles include:

  1. Hemorrhoidectomy: This is a surgical procedure in which the piles are removed using a scalpel or laser. This procedure is typically used for severe or recurring piles.
  2. Stapled hemorrhoidopexy: This procedure involves using a circular stapling device to remove the excess tissue and reposition the remaining tissue back into its normal position.

When considering treatment options, it is important to weigh the benefits and risks of each option. Non-surgical treatments are generally less invasive and have a shorter recovery time, but may not be effective for severe or recurring piles. 

Surgical treatments, while more effective for severe piles, carry a higher risk of complications and a longer recovery time. It is also important to discuss any existing medical conditions or medications with your doctor, as these may impact the effectiveness or safety of certain treatments.

In summary, there are several non-surgical and surgical options available for the treatment of piles, and the choice of treatment will depend on the severity of the piles, the presence of other medical conditions, and personal preference. 

Importance of seeking medical advice 

In conclusion, piles can cause discomfort, pain, and embarrassment, but it is a common condition that can be effectively managed with proper diagnosis and treatment. While some people may be able to manage mild symptoms of piles with lifestyle changes and over-the-counter medications, others may require more intensive treatments, such as surgery.

It is essential to seek medical advice if you experience persistent symptoms of piles, including bleeding, pain, itching, or prolapse. A doctor can perform a physical examination and recommend the most appropriate treatment for your individual case.

Remember, early detection and proper treatment are essential for managing piles and preventing complications, such as blood loss or infection. So don’t hesitate to seek medical advice and take proactive steps to maintain good bowel habits and prevent the development of piles in the first place.

Continue reading: How to Overcome Edema: Symptoms, and Treatment

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