Loads of you have been leaving messages on the Embarrassing Bodies website about haemorrhoids. It seems that you’re confused whether you actually have them and what the symptoms are. Well it’s very simple; haemorrhoids are basically distended blood vessels that occur around the opening of the anus and the common symptoms are itching, having to strain when you go to the loo, some discomfort, some pain, some mucus and even some bleeding when you wipe afterwards. And it is possible that you might feel small tender lumps around the opening of your anus. Haemorrhoids really are that simple and if you’re in any doubt whatsoever, go and ask your GP.
A common question that I’m getting a lot is: Is itching a sign of Haemorrhoids? Well yes itching is a sign of haemorrhoids but it’s also a sign of all sorts of other things as well. Haemorrhoids commonly itch because the skin is irritated, cleanliness isn’t very easy when you have external haemorrhoids, but worms and other skin conditions around the anus can also cause itching so do go and ask your GP to get it properly checked out and get a diagnosis.
A question that’s cropping up quite a lot is does anal sex give you Haemorrhoids? Well the jury is still out, research hasn’t shown it either way, but thinking about it mechanically and biologically there is no real reason why anal sex should give you haemorrhoids. If you have anal sex when you have haemorrhoids however, this will almost certainly irritate them and cause pain, so do be careful and always use protection.
Some of you have written in worrying about whether pregnancy can cause haemorrhoids. Well the honest answer is I’m afraid yes it can indeed. Because you’re carrying a large baby down in your pelvis this increases the pressure down there, which can distend the vessels around your bottom, which are haemorrhoids. The good news is your GP is well prepared for this and can offer you treatment so do go and see them.
A lot of you have written in complaining that the creams that you’ve tried over the counter for haemorrhoids don’t seem to work very well. Well the truth is there are creams and there are creams. Some creams are simply designed for symptomatic relief so they can help with pain and itching and others are designed to actually shrink the haemorrhoid themselves. So do talk to your pharmacist and find out the whole range available to you.
There are lifestyle changes that you can make that should help you. It’s important that you are not constipated so include lots of fibre in your diet and drink plenty of water, and if you are constipated, consider getting a laxative to help you. Suppositories can help, as can certain painkillers, otherwise it’s a trip back to your GP.
For those of you with severe haemorrhoids, or whose haemorrhoids haven’t responded well to over the counter treatments and medications, surgery may be the next step. They can offer you various different forms of treatment including banding, which involves putting a very, very tight elastic band around the haemorrhoid which will help it shrivel and fall off, or sclerosing injections which cause the haemorrhoid to shrivel up and scar away, or full-on surgical removal by various techniques. A good chat with a surgeon, who can examine you and help you decide which the best option for you will be.
Some of you have been asking whether a mucus discharge could be caused by haemorrhoids. Yes it could, they can cause increased mucus production from your bottom, but mucus can be a symptom of all sorts other things as well. Inflammatory bowel conditions like Crohn’s Disease can cause increased mucus, simply eating a very hot, spicy curry can cause mucus as well anal infections, so if there’s any doubt, get a proper diagnosis from your GP.
A lot of you have left comments worrying about experiencing a little bit of bleeding from your bottom. It’s something that really terrifies patients but rarely terrifies doctors, and the reason for that is that bleeding very rarely is a sign of cancer; it’s more commonly a sign of a small crack, a tear, a fissure or even a haemorrhoid. Cancer rarely causes significant bleeding; it’s more likely to cause you a change in your bowel habit, altering between constipation and diarrhoea. If you’re experiencing this please see your GP.
Doctor Responses: Haemorrhoids
Dr Christian has been scouring the Embarrassing Bodies website collecting the most common queries from viewers about piles. In this short video he gives answers to your most burning questions.
The majority of questions were found in the comments section of our condition guide to piles.
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