Piles or hemorrhoids are inflammed tissues in the anal canal. Read on to know about the symptoms, causes and treatment from an expert.
Piles or hemorrhoids is a swelling in the anal canal which is the lower end of the bottom where you pass your stool. The anal canal can even swell and bleed in some cases. It it gets increased in size, they start bleeding on and off. This is the accumulation of piles which can cause issues inside the anal canal. They occasionally bleed, usually when patient passes stool. Also, during constipation, they definitely will bleed. Piles are of two types - namely internal and external. In fact, there is even a difference in piles sizes. Internal piles generally range from 2 to 4 centimeters above the opening of the anus. While, external piles are located outside the anus. The major causes of piles are chronic constipation, chronic diarrhea, lifting heavy weights, pregnancy, and bleeding when passing a stool. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. K. N. Srivastava, Director & Head of Department, General And Minimal Access Surgery, BLK Super Speciality Hospital, Delhi, about the causes, symptoms and treatment for piles.
There can be noticeable symptoms in some people while a few won't even have any signs of piles. Moreover, the signs are not significant in a lot of cases but can be very severe in some patients. According to Dr. K.N Srivastava, major symptoms of piles are:
The commonest symptom is fresh bleeding from the anus. When you go to the toilet, you start fresh bright red bleeding without pain. This may happen while passing stool and it might stop by itself sometimes. And sometimes, it goes on for a few days.
Another common symptom is swelling in the anal opening while you're passing stool. If you're straining, then you may have some swelling coming out of the anus. There can be a hard lump around the lump, also called external hemorrhoids.
If it gets infected, then in addition to swelling, some may have pain. And, that is the situation when piles gets complicated. Most cases when piles is uncomplicated, it's painless. The pain might escalate and should be reported to a doctor immediately.
Other severe symptoms might be anemia, due to excessive bleeding. Bleeding is a common cause of piles and excessive bleeding can make a person anemic too. This requires immediate medical attention as it can lead to severe health problems.
5. Anal fistula
Two other serious signs of piles are anal infection and anal fistula. An anal fistula is an infected tunnel between the skin and the anus. Except for these symptoms, when you get the examination done, you get a proctoscopy. Through a proctoscopy, you can see pile masses inside the anus.
What causes piles?
Piles put a lot of pressure on the lower rectum. So, the veins around your anus stretch under pressure and leads to swelling. This can result in the formation of piles. The formation of piles can also be due to lifting heavy weights. Piles require a proper medical diagnosis according to the severity of the symptoms. As per Dr. K.N Srivastava, the main causes of piles are:
Mostly they're related to constipation. If one is having more constipation, then when it starts straining and it can lead to piles. This is the commonest cause of piles. Sometimes, it happens without any pains and without constipation. This is a quite common condition, especially in adulthood.
2. Inside growth
Sometimes, there are conditions where there will be inside growth, which may cause piles. Inside growth can result in hemorrhoids, that can develop from increased pressure in the lower rectum. Therefore, inside growth is another cause of piles.
3. Liver disorder
There are certain liver disorders where the portal hypertension can also lead to piles. Inside growth and liver disorder are the rare causes of piles. Alcohol can also damage your liver and can then lead to piles.
Stress doesn't cause piles but it can cause constipation. And, that in turn can lead to piles. Stress and tension are major causes of constipation, which is a major and common cause of piles. Therefore, it is better to sleep on time and try taking less stress.
5. Sitting on the toilet for longer periods
Some people have a habit of sitting on the toilet seat for a long period of time. Even this can be a trigger of piles. You should avoid spending so much time in the bathroom in order to prevent the risk of getting affected with piles.
How to treat piles?
Dr. K.N Srivastava said, "If it is in the initial stage there is only bleeding, there is no swelling coming out of the anus opening. Most of the times, it resolves by itself. This is the stage one of piles. It won't get aggravated. The patient can take care of the diet and relieve the constipation and may not require any other treatment except for treatment of constipation. But if it goes into second stage, it may require treatment. It may be in the form of local injections, some banding, cryosurgery or even laser surgery. If the bleeding is recurring and the patient is in third or fourth stage, then surgery is the only option." Bleeding can be treated by dietary measures and local ointment or local injections at initial stages. It is a temporary measure if is a stage two or three piles. If it's recurrent bleeding or swelling and becomes stage three or four, then surgery is the best option.
Home remedies for piles
Home remedies have a tendency to help you with almost every health care problem. There is no exact at home cure for piles but there are helping factors to avoid the severity of symptoms. And, you can ask for your doctor's advice before trying these natural measures at home. According to Dr. K.N Srivastava, some home remedies can also work for piles. They are:
1. Balanced diet
Diet for piles should be a high roughage diet. Take plenty of roughage diet like leafy vegetables, fruits and salads. These can help in relieving constipation. A balanced diet is not just good for your overall health but can help with piles too.
2. Psyllium husk
If dietary measures are not enough for relieving constipation, then you can take laxatives in the form of psyllium husk. Moreover, if there is swelling in the anal area, then you might have to undergo a surgical procedure. When Local ointment or diet doesn't work, you have to go for local injections or band ligation of the pile masses or surgery.
3. Drink enough water
Water can also act as a stool softener, further making the pain lesser. Drinking enough water can ease the pain and help in better passing of stool. And, staying hydrated is good for internal health as well as beauty care. A minimum of 2.5-3 litres of water should be consumed by everyone, everyday.
Also read: Homeopathic treatment for piles
Churan is an Ayurvedic way that helps with digestion and bowel movement. Consuming it also results in helping with the symptoms of piles. You can take churan at night before bedtime. You can mix it with hot water too.
5. Aloe vera
Consuming aloe vera can also be a natural treatment for piles. It is not just beneficial for your skin but is a cure for health problems too. A person suffering with the problem of piles can also apply aloe vera gel on the swollen part, which helps in reducing irritation with its anti-inflammatory properties. You will get a soothing and cool effect by applying it.
These were the symptoms, causes, treatment and home remedies for piles by Dr. K.N Srivastava. Except these, regular exercise, walk and a high fiber diet can help with constipation, further reducing the signs of piles. One should not ignore the symptoms of piles and visit the doctor immediately for further medical treatment. However, in some cases, piles are even recurrent and cannot be cured.
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