Piles or hemorrhoids are a collection of swollen veins in the anal canal and lower rectum. Depending on the location of formation, hemorrhoids can be internal—inside the rectum, or just under the skin around the anus—external. Piles are very common in adulthood, with nearly three out of four adults suffering from hemorrhoids from time to time.
While the exact cause is unknown, there have been some causes identified that can help treat it effectively. Read on to know about the causes, symptoms and treatment of piles.
Causes of piles
Hemorrhoids can develop when excessive pressure is borne by the veins around the anal canal. This pressure can cause the veins to stretch and bulge. Often hemorrhoids are seen in straining during bowel movements due to constipation, obesity, sitting for long periods of time on the toilet, pregnancy, eating a low-fiber diet, having chronic diarrhoea or constipation. Regular heavy lifting can also increase the intra-abdominal pressure causing the veins to bulge out.
Many people have hemorrhoids without obvious symptoms. Infact, in about 50 percent of people, hemorrhoids remain non-symptomatic. The risk of piles increases with age. This is due to the weakening of tissues around the rectum and anus that support the venous system there. Moreover, women can experience piles during their pregnancy, as the baby puts pressure on the anal region.
Symptoms of hemorrhoids
The symptoms of hemorrhoids can vary according to its type. Internal hemorrhoids can occur with painless bleeding during bowel movements. Since they lie inside the rectum, you can’t see or feel them. Only a doctor can assess them during a Digital Rectal Examination (DRE). Internal hemorrhoids when becoming advanced can protrude through the anal opening—known as prolapsed hemorrhoid. Pain and irritation can result from prolapsed hemorrhoids.
On the other hand, external hemorrhoids lie under the skin around the anus. They can be felt and seen by the patient and are painful. Unlike internal hemorrhoids, external hemorrhoids seldom bleed. However, they are associated with a lot more discomfort like irritation or itching in the anal region. If this type of hemorrhoids become advanced, they may become thrombosed. This means that blood pools in external hemorrhoid and becomes a clot. This can result in severe pain, inflammation and a hard lump near the anal opening.
How to prevent piles?
By eradicating constipation and other causative factors, hemorrhoids can be prevented. Drinking plenty of fluids, and using stool softeners can prevent straining while defecating. Intake of sufficient fiber with food is also helpful in preventing stool from hardening. Fiber adds bulk to the stool, and improves the frequency of defecation. Moreover, it keeps the bowels healthy and rids it of toxins. You can figure out what works for you by getting in touch with the best gastroenterologist in Karachi.
Keeping the anal opening clean and dry is also important to prevent worsening of the disease. Taking a warm sitz bath will also soothe the anal opening and ease the pain and itching of hemorrhoids. An ice pack can also be used to ease the discomfort of piles.
Another important measure to prevent hemorrhoids is to exercise regularly. Regular exercise will improve the tone of the perineal muscles and the anal canal and will prevent the vessels from prolapsing into hemorrhoids. Exercising will also improve the frequency of bowel movements and keep the bowels healthy.
Apart from taking the aforementioned measures, it is important to adhere to the following steps. It is important to not strain while defecating as is not spending more time than needed on the toilet. Certain medication such as codeine and its derivatives can worsen constipation and piles. If the piles are bleeding, medication like aspirin should not be taken.
Treatment of piles
The treatment of hemorrhoids starts with prevention. The first step is prevention and avoidance of factors that cause or worsen constipation. To ease constipation, stool softeners and laxatives can also be taken with the advice of a healthcare provider.
In case of itching and swelling, a sitz bath can be helpful. Use a sitz bath two to three times a day for ten to fifteen minutes to ease the swelling of hemorrhoids. Oral medications can also be used for relieving pain.
Other medications used for the treatment of hemorrhoids include topical creams that decrease the swelling and pain. These topical creams contain active ingredients like witch hazel, lidocaine or hydrocortisone which can temporarily numb the area and relieve pain. Cold packs can also help relieve pain and discomfort.
Minimally invasive procedures
If the bleeding gets worse or if hemorrhoids become painful, intervention is needed. These can include non-surgical, minimally invasive procedures like rubber band ligation, sclerotherapy and coagulation.
A small percentage of people with hemorrhoids require surgery if minimally invasive procedures are not effective in eradicating piles. These can include hemorrhoidectomy, or hemorrhoid stapling. Hemorrhoidectomy involves removing the excess tissue in piles that causes bleeding. This surgery can be performed under general or local anaesthesia. Hemorrhoidectomy is the most effective way to treat severe or prolapsed hemorrhoids.
Hemorrhoid stapling can be used for internal hemorrhoids whereby the blood supply to the hemorrhoidal tissue is blocked. Both techniques are effective for relapsing disease.
Hemorrhoids should not be ignored, especially if they are recurrent. Seek professional help for piles and book an appointment with a top general surgeon in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT professional for your concerns.