Piles (Haemorrhoids)

Haemorrhoids are varicose veins of the rectum or anus (the back passage). The other name for them is simply piles.

There are three types of haemorrhoids.

There are internal haemorrhoids which you cannot see or feel and the first indication you have of them is when they bleed. Any bleeding of bright blood from the back passage must be investigated as other causes are tumours and pathology of the lower bowel.

The second type are called prolapsed haemorrhoids in which the actual varicose veins hangs out which can be very painful. They may not come out until you have a bowel motion and the pain associated with them will only be relieved if they are returned inside the back passage. Prolapsed haemorrhoids that stay out, can strangulate. This produces an acute situation which can require immediate treatment. With a prolapsed haemorrhoid that you cannot return inside the bowel it is essential that the doctor be called.

The third type is external haemorrhoids. They take the form of a thrombosed pile which is a hard little round lump. This lump can be acutely painful but will generally settle down within a week or two.

Haemorrhoids generally develop over a period of time. They come on during the middle and latter stages of life, and especially during pregnancy. You can suffer from them, of course, when you are young but generally they come on gradually from the age of about 30. They can be due to chronic constipation.

Making sure you have regular motions and a diet of plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and other roughage which will produce regular motions is a good way of avoiding haemorrhoids.

Avoid sitting for long periods of time on hard surfaces; haemorrhoids can be caused by uncomfortable seating over a long period of time.

Haemorrhoids can be treated, but they have to be diagnosed. It is sensible if you suffer pain or if you have bleeding from the back passage you see a doctor so that they can be diagnosed.

Once you are diagnosed there are various ointments and suppositories which can be inserted and which tend to shrink up the varicose veins. Haemorrhoids can be reduced, and held in check by local application, ointments and suppositories. If these measures fail then it may be necessary to have injections to make the swollen veins shrivel.

Finally, haemorrhoids can be removed by surgery in extreme cases. As you get older it is wise to have a regular examination of your back passage to eliminate the possibility of a malignancy appearing in association with long established haemorrhoids.

Even though they are a common cause of bleeding from the back passage, often noticed in the toilet bowel or on the paper, any and all bleeding from the bowel should result in a discussion with your doctor.

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