Piles (Haemorrhoids): Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

Dr. Sneha Ganatra
November 18, 2020

There are many commonly occurring health conditions in the digestive tract and one among them is piles. Haemorrhoids is another name for this condition, and it is about as serious as it is uncomfortable to live with piles. Meaning, piles can get bad enough for you can seek medical treatment, even as it is very common for many to go through life by employing home remedies. Moreover, most people don’t experience symptoms for a long time as they aren’t as obvious and can be internal.

To add to that, piles affects the anus, which is a sensitive area that not many are open to having diagnosed physically. Also, the piles problem presents in 4 different grades and can be self-managed with the right food for piles, for the most part. However, it does get progressively worse, even to a state that no amount of self-help information on how to cure piles will do you any good. What does help is understanding the reason for piles, its ill-effects and knowing when you need to consult a specialist.

To that end, here is a breakdown of piles with everything you need to know.

What is piles?

Piles or haemorrhoids are inflamed collections of tissue or veins inside in the lower rectum or anus. They can develop both internally, within the rectum and externally, under the skin around the anal cavity. This condition is fairly common, and it is found that 3 out of 4 adults are likely to develop the piles problem in their life. The condition may last several days or weeks, but can be treated with proper care.

Internal piles is typically located up to 4cm from the anus and this is what makes it very difficult to identify. External piles presents around the anus or the outside edge as small lumps. These are quite painful, itchy and can further worsen if they develop blood clots. To name the degree of the problem, piles is ranked according to 4 grades. These are the 4 types of piles.

  • Grade I: Inflammation inside the lining of the anus, unlikely to be visible to external examination.
  • Grade II: This is when the inflammation is larger than in grade I piles and is still inside the anus. However, there are occasions when the swollen vein or tissue may get pushed out of the anus during the passing of stools and later return.
  • Grade III: Known as prolapsed haemorrhoids and this is when it appears externally. The tissue can be pushed back.
  • Grade IV: Significantly larger than grade III piles and can cause immense pain if blood gets clotted inside the lump. The tissue cannot be pushed back.

Piles causes

While it isn’t completely clear what causes piles, it is believed that increased pressure in the rectum has a role to play. This causes the blood vessels to stretch and swell, thus causing piles. Accordingly, some possible causes of piles include:

  • Pregnancy
  • Chronic constipation
  • Heavy lifting
  • Obesity
  • Low-fibre diet
  • Excessive straining during bowel movements
  • Anal intercourse

These are the typical causes of piles with age being another factor as well. As you age, the blood vessels in the anal region stretch and weaken, making it more likely for the elderly to develop this condition.

Piles symptoms

As mentioned earlier, piles doesn’t always present with symptoms in the early stages. However, as it worsens, here’s what you can expect to experience.

  • Slimy discharge from the anus
  • Itchy and sore skin around the anus
  • Pain during the passing of stools
  • Lump around the anus
  • Bleeding during a bowel movement
  • Excessive anal bleeding
  • Faecal incontinence
  • On noticing these symptoms, you should prioritise healthcare as when left untreated, piles can lead to quite severe complications. Among the top concerns is anaemia, which occurs when there is chronic blood loss due to piles. This means the body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to transport oxygen optimally. An anal fistula is another deadly complication, which then becomes a hotbed for infection.

    Piles treatment

    Piles can resolve on its own and be managed at home, but once it progresses to grade III or grade IV, you will have to seek medical care. Piles medicine is typically used to manage pain and so, your doctor may give you a painkiller as a piles tablet. In some cases, treatment may involve fibre supplements to help reduce the strain during bowel movements. Similarly, you may be prescribed laxatives to address constipation.

    Besides this, your other options are to try and manage your symptoms using home remedies. These are as follows.

    • Soak in a tub of warm water to relieve pain
    • Clean your anus with warm water
    • Avoid using rough toilet paper
    • Eat plenty of high-fibre foods and drink sufficient water to avoid hard stools
    • Reduce caffeine and alcohol to keep constipation to a minimum
    • Use a cold ice pack to relieve pain from external piles

    In case home remedies and medication does not work, surgical treatment of piles is possible.

    Piles prevention

    Preventing piles from developing is fairly easy and something you should definitely work toward actively. Here are a few tips to rely on.

    • Avoid straining during bowel movements
    • Do not sit on the toilet for extended periods of time
    • Avoid sitting on hard floors or concrete
    • Drink plenty of water
    • Exercise regularly to avoid constipation

    When it comes to the treatment of piles, it is important to stay in touch with a healthcare professional as much as possible. This is because it can be very easily treated at home and doing so can help you avoid a surgery. Moreover, with proper piles treatment, you can also do away with any of the pain that generally associated with it and avoid future complications. Thankfully, with a provision like the Bajaj Finserv Health app, such healthcare is now easy to access and convenient too!

    This app allows you to take advantage of telemedicine services and reap all the benefits it has to offer. With it, you can find the best specialists in your area, book appointments online, and even consult virtually over video. What’s more, you can also track your vitals and send over digital patient records for efficient diagnosis. With such a tool at your disposal, you can manage piles easily and comfortably, while availing healthcare from your home. To get started, download this app for free from Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.