Haemorrhoids: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

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Haemorrhoids also known as piles is a condition that causes a lot of discomfort to the people who suffer from it. The prevalence of the condition is really high and about 3 out of 4 people will be exposed to it once in their lifetime. Since it is a condition that primarily affects motions and stool processing most people tend to suffer the pain for a long time without sharing it to anyone due to a misplaced concept of shame.

Haemorrhoids

Haemorrhoids are rarely serious and usually goes away within a week or two in normal cases. However, for some, the condition might persist for a longer period causing a lot of discomfort and loss of blood especially during going to the toilet. In this article, we will be discussing in detail about the causes, symptoms and treatments of haemorrhoids and how to prevent them by making certain lifestyle changes. There are a lot of misconceptions that are present about the causes and treatments of piles and in this article we will aim to remove those misconceptions from your mind.

What are Haemorrhoids?

In simple terms, haemorrhoids can be described as nothing but swollen veins around your anus or your lower rectum. The excessive pressure that builds around the anus is one of the primary causes that lead to haemorrhoids. Haemorrhoids are only called piles when they start to swell and cause a lot of discomfort and irritation especially during sitting or while trying to pass a motion. The rectum is the region which extends to anus which is the opening at the end of your gut through which faecal matters are discarded. It’s important that if you are suffering from haemorrhoids you should keep this area clean and wash it regularly.

Haemorrhoids can also be considered as a varicose abnormality which is defined by the enlargement of veins causing a bulging due to the thinning of the walls in the vein. In most cases, haemorrhoids are painless and do not show any symptoms. They only cause pain when a blood clot occurs at the engorged vein, which brings it under the category of thrombosed haemorrhoids. Thrombosed haemorrhoids can be extremely painful and can cause a lot of discomfort to the person suffering from it. It can completely disrupt the normal lifestyle of the person as they won’t be able to sit without suffering from pain all the time.

There is no guarantee that haemorrhoids may only come once, it may repeat multiple times if you are suffering from conditions such as chronic diarrhoea or constipation. Haemorrhoids can also come in more than one location at the same time, which can cause serious discomfort and pain to the patient. Haemorrhoids are basically categorised into two different types namely internal haemorrhoids and external haemorrhoids. We will be discussing the difference and characteristics of these both in the following sections.

Internal and External Haemorrhoids:

These are the main two types of haemorrhoids that can affect you. Both of these have the same causes, but the symptoms differ due to the different locations where they occur. In the below section we will discuss both in detail.

Internal Haemorrhoids:

Internal haemorrhoids occur in the rectum above the anus. Since there are no pain-sensing nerves in the region internal haemorrhoids are most often undiscovered. In some cases when the stool becomes very hard and dry, the internal haemorrhoids surface may get bruised while trying to pass the dry stool. This can cause the stool to appear bloody and you can find the traces of blood on the tissue or in the toilet.

At times the excessive growth can be pushed to the anal opening due to strain, this condition is known as the prolapsed or protruding haemorrhoid and can be extremely painful and cause a lot of discomforts.  Protruding haemorrhoids are classified by extreme pain and irritation especially when going to the toilet. When prolapsed due to bulging, it usually goes back to place on its own, or you can gently push it back inside. However, you should be extremely careful while pushing it back inside that no bruises occur inside the rectum as it is a highly probable site to be infected.

External Haemorrhoids:

External haemorrhoids occur in the outside region of the anus and are extremely painful as it is the site of many pain-sensing nerves. External haemorrhoids often cause a lot of discomforts while passing the stool as well as during sitting. This is a very painful condition as it disrupts the normal lifestyle of the individual.

External Haemorrhoids can also cause a lot of itching and irritation and can easily bleed if irritated a lot. Most people tend to feel the site from which the pain in originating which causes the piles to erupt causing more bleeding. This can also happen in public spaces which can be very embarrassing to the patient. The mental stress the patient goes through while suffering from external haemorrhoids are massive and this causes them to be always in a very foul mood.

  • When an unfortunate blood clot is formed around the site, it can lead to a condition that is called is thrombosed haemorrhoid, most commonly known as piles. This can be extremely painful and cause a lot of itching and bleeding. The blood clot formed around the external haemorrhoid can often lead to profuse bleeding which can lead to further complications.

Haemorrhoid Symptoms:

It’s not very hard to diagnose the condition as the symptoms are very specific to the condition. Only certain other diseases such as anal or colorectal cancer can have the same symptoms as piles. In the below section you can find the various symptoms of haemorrhoids based on the type.

Symptoms of Internal Haemorrhoids:

  • Internal Haemorrhoids occur inside the rectum and won’t be visible
  • Passing Blood while passing stool
  • Traces of blood on toilet paper
  • Traces of blood in the toilet
  • Bleeding without pain or irritation while sitting on the toilet
  • Prolapsing of a swollen vein to the anus
  • Bleeding after passing motion.

Symptoms of External Haemorrhoid:

  • These occur in the layer of skin under your anus
  • Persistent itching around the anus
  • Bleeding while being seated for a longer duration
  • Extreme pain while going to the toilet
  • Tender lumps near the anus
  • One or more hard growths at the anal surface
  • Pain while trying to sit down
  • Clotting of the blood in piles leading to thrombosis

While examining if its piles, you should also keep in mind that these symptoms can be also an indicator of serious diseases such as colorectal cancer. You should keep in mind that bleeding through the rectum for a longer period which does not go away is almost the same symptom as colorectal cancer. If the bleeding persists its advisable that you consult a doctor immediately and do a colonoscopy to be sure.

Haemorrhoid Causes:

There are various causes that can lead to haemorrhoids. Since the condition is not very severe, the causes are very varied. Many women suffer from piles during their periods of pregnancy as a result of the extreme pressure that acts on the veins around the rectum. In the below section we will discuss the causes of haemorrhoids in detail.

1. Straining While Passing the Motion:

In people who suffer from constipation, the chances of developing piles are fairly high. While people apply more pressure to push out the stool, they tend to hold their breath and push harder. This builds a lot of pressure in the veins that surround the anus causing them to bulge and cause haemorrhoids.

2. Spending a Lot of Time Sitting on the Toilet:

Both Indian and European styles of closet bring about a lot of pressure to the veins around the rectum. These days people tend to spend a lot of time sitting on the toilet and using their phones or reading the paper. This kind of lifestyle practices can increase your risk of being affected with the condition.

3. Consistent Problems in Bowel Movements:

People who suffer from problems related to passing smooth stool including constipation and diarrhoea on a regular basis over a period of time has high chances of being affected by piles.

The extra pressure that is applied to the veins is the reason for this. The people who are suffering from such conditions also tend to spend longer durations sitting on the toilet.

4. A Diet that Lacks Fibre:

Many people follow an almost carnivorous diet. The prevalence of haemorrhoids in this section of people is comparatively very high. Non-soluble fibre is one of the most important contributors to the passing of smooth stool as it makes the stool thicker and less dry. When you feast on a lot of meat it can cause your stool to be low in content and also become dry very soon. Always remember to add fibre to your diet as it can reduce the chances of developing piles. It also has a bunch of additional benefits that can help you in many other health aspects.

5. Ageing:

Ageing is one of the main reasons that can lead to the development of haemorrhoids. The support that is given to the anus and rectum veins are reduced as the tissue that gives this support weakens as you age. The need for extra care is required for the elderly to ensure that they do not suffer much due to haemorrhoids.

6. Pregnancy:

When a woman gets pregnant, as the fetus develops the pressure that is applied by the uterus on the rectal region increases. Haemorrhoids that appear during pregnancy are very common and usually disappears soon after pregnancy.

7. Lifting Heavy Objects:

Mostly in labours who lift heavy objects regularly, there is a lot of chance that they might develop piles. Since the requirement for a lot of central strength, the muscles around the anus and the rectum compress a lot putting a lot of pressure on the veins there leading to the condition.

Haemorrhoid Treatments:

Treatment of piles differs according to the position where it occurs. The need for treatment may also vary upon the severity of the condition. Medical procedures are only called for if simple home remedies do not work or the severity of the condition has gone up. Some of the most commonly used medical procedures for the treatment of haemorrhoids are listed below.

1. Rubberband Ligation:

This is a method implemented by doctors to cut off the blood supply to the haemorrhoid and thereby make it disappear. The doctor does this by tying a special rubber band around the base of the growth and then ensure that blood does not flow to the tissue and thereby makes the haemorrhoid shrink and fall off.

This method is most often used in treating internal haemorrhoids that protrude to the anus. Scar tissue is formed on the rest of the part and eventually, it will shrink in size giving a lot of comfort to the patient. The procedure will take about one to two weeks to take effect and requires the patient to go through a temporary period of discomfort for some time.

2. Sclerotherapy:

This procedure is a fairly simple one where the doctor injects a medical solution that can create scar tissues directly into the haemorrhoid which will effectively cut the blood supply to the engorged vein and thereby causes it to shrivel and die.

3. Infrared Photocoagulation:

Infrared photocoagulation is a method in which the doctor uses direct infrared light to induce a scar tissue in the engorged vein which will effectively cut of the blood supply and make the haemorrhoid wither away in some time.

4. Electrocoagulation:

This treatment method is used in treating internal haemorrhoid by sending a direct-controlled electrical impulse into the haemorrhoid which causes the formation of scar tissue which will actively cut off the blood supply to the internal growth and will cause the haemorrhoid to die gradually.

5. Haemorrhoidectomy:

This treatment method is only used if no other treatment method works. This is a surgical procedure in which the doctor will surgically remove the external haemorrhoid or a prolapsed one after giving anaesthesia to the patient.

6. Haemorrhoid Stapling:

This is another surgical method which is used to treat piles in extreme cases. This surgical procedure involves a special stapling method which will effectively cure the condition. In this treatment method also the patient will be anesthetised.

Home Remedies for Haemorrhoids:

Since the severity of the condition is less, most often it will recede if proper home remedies are used to treat it. There various home remedies which can help in giving you relief from this painful condition. But be sure that if the symptoms persist even after the implementation of these remedies or if the condition seems to worsen or appear unbearable you should consult a doctor immediately.

  • Consume food that is rich in fibre.
  • Start a dosage of stool softeners or fibre supplements such as Citrucel or Metamucil.
  • Do not strain during bowel movements
  • Use painkillers if the pain seems to be unbearable
  • Sit in a hot tub of hot salted water to relieve the swelling and irritation
  • Use topical ointments before going to the toilet and after.

How to Prevent Haemorrhoids?

As you know the prevention of a condition is always better than worrying about how to cure them. Haemorrhoid is a condition that can be easily prevented by making some smart lifestyle changes. Some of the steps that you can include to help with the prevention of piles are listed below.

1. Keep a Diet that is High in Fibre:

Insoluble fibre plays an important role in keeping bowel movements healthy. The need for a sufficient amount of fibre in your diet is fortified due to many other aspects of health that can benefit from the inclusion of fibre rich foods in your diet.

2. Drink Enough Water:

Drinking enough water can ensure that your stool does not become dry and do not cause much strain to your anus and rectum while trying to pass it. The importance of drinking sufficient amount of water is stressed by almost every health practitioners around the world. You should practice the habit of drinking at least 2 litres of water every day.

3. Avoid Straining While Going to the Toilet:

Straining excessively while going to the toilet can increase the risk for haemorrhoids. You should take care that not much strain is given to the rectal muscles while going to the toilet.

4. Go to the Toilet Immediately When You Feel the Urge To:

Holding the call of nature can build a lot of pressure on the anus and the rectum and can increase the chances of developing piles. It’s always advisable that you go to the toilet as soon as you feel the urge to do so.

5. Avoid Spending Longer Duration Sitting on the Toilet:

Spending a lot of time on the toilet will add to the chances of developing this condition. The more time you spend browsing through your phone or the news paper will only increase the chances of you being affected by conditions such as haemorrhoids.

Haemorrhoids can seem to be very scary the first time you get it. The key is to keep calm and try bringing some changes to your lifestyle and diet and it might go away on its own. Also, remember to exercise regularly as this will help in keeping your body active and reduce the chances of developing such conditions.

FAQ’s:

Now that you have a fair idea of what haemorrhoids are and what causes them, there might be some questions that might be lingering in your mind. In the below section we will try and answer some of the commonly asked questions about haemorrhoids.

1. Do haemorrhoids heal without treatment?

Yes. in most cases they do heal without having to obtain any specific treatment. However, if the symptoms persist its wise to consult a doctor and get it checked out immediately.

2. What will happen if I do not treat my haemorrhoid?

In most cases, it will go away on its own. But, it will be a lot painful if you do nothing to take care of the condition. In some cases, if the piles are left untreated it might lead to further complications due to regular blood loss and also a great amount of pain.

3. Can haemorrhoids be dangerous to your life?

Yes, if left untreated the condition can lead to major disorders that can affect the health of your colon. If left untreated for longer duration it can lead to the development of colorectal cancer and also other complications due to extreme blood loss.

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