Sit on that cold floor and you’ll get piles, that’s what our Grans used to say. Well actually, you won’t. Piles, or as they’re medically known, haemorrhoids, actually occur when the pressure on the back passage increases so the blood vessels swell and form lumps. The most common cause is constipation. The more you strain to pass stools the more pressure you put on the blood vessels. Pregnancy can also cause piles due to the added pressure on the veins in the back passage from the baby.
About half the UK will develop piles at some point in their lives and they can occur inside or outside the anus. Symptoms can include bright red blood from your anus, pain or discomfort after going to the toilet, and a slimy mucus discharge. But piles aren’t serious, many people have them and don’t even realise it, and a lot of the time they disappear of their own accord.
If you’re feeling discomfort from piles you can get over-the-counter creams to relieve them. The creams containing anaesthetic shouldn’t be used for longer than seven days. Where there’s a lot of inflammation in the area the doctor can prescribe a steroid cream but again, this should not be used for longer than a week. If you have prolapsed piles, painkillers and an ice pack on the area will help soothe and relive any tenderness.
When piles don’t clear up you may need to have them surgically removed and there are loads of methods. Banding can be for internal or external piles where a surgeon places a rubber band around the base of the haemorrhoid to cut off its blood supply so after a few days it dies and falls off. Other treatments include injecting the haemorrhoids, freezing them, using a laser to destroy them and surgically lifting up the anal cushions to prevent them from prolapsing.
Whatever type of haemorrhoids you have, the important thing to remember is they can be easily treated but to stop piles becoming your problem eat a high fibre diet and include plenty of fruit and veg, cut down on sugary, fatty and processed food and drink plenty of water and drink alcohol in moderation. This should keep your stool soft, healthy and you free from constipation and hopefully, free from piles.
Quick Health Advice: Piles
Around half the UK population will develop piles at some point in their life. In this exclusive guide, Dr Jessen explains the causes of haemorrhoids and dispels some myths along the way. He also discusses treatment options – from over-the-counter creams to surgery – and advises on the best way to prevent piles occurring in the first place.
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