Hemorrhoids (piles) are swellings which develop in the lining of the anus and back passage. There is a network of blood vessels within the lining of the anal canal. Sometimes, these veins become wider and enflamed with more blood than normal. These veins and the overlying tissue may then form into one or more swellings called piles.
Hemorrhoids are very common. Almost three out of four adults will have this problem from time to time. Sometimes they don’t cause signs but at other times they may cause burning, uneasiness, and bleeding.
This problem can range from mild and hardly noticeable to severe and painful. It depends on the size and number of hemorrhoids which a patient develops. They can make life very uncomfortable for the sufferer due to their location, and cause problems with hygiene.
What causes them?
Hemorrhoids can have many different causes, some of them are preventable and others are not. Its preventable causes comprise excess straining while passing feces.
The basic cause of hemorrhoids is the veins around your anus which tend to stretch under pressure and may swell or bulge. Swollen veins can develop from increased pressure in the lower rectum because of;
- Straining during bowel movements
- Sitting on the toilet for longer time
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation
- Anal intercourse
- Low-fiber diet
Hemorrhoids are more likely with aging. This is because the tissues which support the veins in rectum and anus can weaken and stretch. Moreover, it can also happen when you are pregnant, as the baby’s weight puts pressure on your anal region.
What are the symptoms?
Swellings can often be seen or felt. However, some hemorrhoids may not be as large or noticeable as others or may occur within the rectum. Here are other signs and symptoms which may suggest you have this condition;
- Painless bleeding during bowel movements — there may also be small amounts of bright red blood on your toilet tissue or in the toilet
- Burning or irritation in your anal region
- Pain or discomfort
- Swelling around anus
- A lump near the anus, which may be sensitive or aching
How are they treated?
A number of different treatments are available for hemorrhoids. It depends on its cause and severity. Usually, treatment of hemorrhoids is conservative. The condition needs to be tackled in two ways – treating the signs and the cause.
The pain and irritation of piles may also be reduced by washing and drying the area around the bottom after a bowel movement. But, over-vigorous rubbing can also make matters worse. Doctors may use topical creams with steroids to decrease the size and itch of hemorrhoid.
Other treatments may consist of pushing back hemorrhoid which can make patients feel better. You can also use nitroglycerine ointments or even botulinum toxin (Botox) injection to reduce spasm of the internal anal sphincter.
Dietary improvement, drinking plenty of fluids, short-term laxative use and avoidance of overstraining may also be recommended.
In some cases, where other treatment options fail, surgical intervention may be required comprising sclerotherapy. In this therapy, medicine is injected into the pile, making it shrink. Rubber band ligation (internal piles are tied off with rubber bands), cryotherapy, anal dilatation under general anesthetic or haemorrhoidectomy (surgical removal) can also be used to treat hemorrhoids.