What are Haemorrhoids?

Haemorrhoids, also known as piles, are swellings containing enlarged blood vessels found inside or around the bottom of the rectum and anus. Haemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in or around the anus or rectum. The haemorrhoidal veins are located in the lowest part of the rectum and the anus. Sometimes they swell so that the vein walls become stretched, thin, and irritated by passing bowel movements. Haemorrhoids are split up into two different categories including

  • Internal Haemorrhoids- Located far enough inside the rectum that you can’t see or feel them. They don’t usually hurt as there is few pain sensing nerves in the rectum. Bleeding may be the only signal that they are there. Sometimes internal haemorrhoids prolapse, or enlarge and protrude outside the anal sphincter. If so, you may be able to see or feel them as moist, pink pads of skin that are pinker than the surrounding area. Prolapsed haemorrhoids may hurt because they become irritated by rubbing from clothing and sitting. They usually recede into the rectum on their own; if they don’t, they can be gently pushed back into place.
  • External Haemorrhoids- Located within the anus and are often uncomfortable. If an external haemorrhoid prolapses to the outside (usually in the course of passing a stool), you can see and feel it. Blood clots sometimes form within prolapsed external haemorrhoids, causing an extremely painful condition called a thrombosis. If an external haemorrhoid becomes thrombosed, it can look rather frightening, turning purple or blue, and could possibly bleed. Despite their appearance, thrombosed haemorrhoids are usually not serious and will resolve themselves in about a week. If the pain is unbearable, the thrombosed haemorrhoid can be removed with surgery, which stops the pain.

Anal bleeding and pain of any sort is alarming and should be evaluated – it can indicate a life-threatening condition, such as bowel cancer. Haemorrhoids are the main cause of anal bleeding and are rarely dangerous, but a definite diagnosis from your doctor is essential.


What are the causes of Haemorrhoids?

  • They are associated with increased pressure in the blood vessels in and around your anus. 
  • The pressure in the blood vessels in and around your anus can then cause the blood vessels in your back passage to become swollen and inflamed.
  • Too much straining on the toilet as a result of prolonged constipation. This is mainly due to lack of fibre in a person’s diet.
  • Chronic (long term) diarrhoea can also increase the risk of getting Haemorrhoids.
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Age- as you get older your body’s supporting tissues get weaker, increasing your risk of haemorrhoids
  • Being pregnant- this can place increased pressure on your pelvic blood vessels, causing them to enlarge.
  • Having a family history of Haemorrhoids
  • Regularly lifting heavy objects
  • A persistent cough or repeated vomiting
  • Sitting down for long periods of time


What is the severity of Haemorrhoids? 

Haemorrhoids are classified by grade, which is based on how severe they are:

  • Grade 1: Slightly enlarged haemorrhoids that cannot be seen from outside the anus.
  • Grade 2: Larger haemorrhoids that may come outside of the anus at times, like when passing stool, but then go back in on their own.
  • Grade 3: Haemorrhoids that come out of the anus when passing stool or engaging in physical activity and do not go back in on their own. They can only be pushed back inside the anus.
  • Grade 4: Haemorrhoids that are always outside the anus and can no longer be pushed back inside. A small bit of the anal lining may also come down from the lower rectum and out of the anus, which is known as rectal prolapse.


What are the symptoms of Haemorrhoids?

  • In many cases, there are not usually symptoms noticeable to the individual with Haemorrhoids and some people don’t even realise that they have Haemorrhoids.
  • Constipation
  • Bleeding after passing a stool- the blood is usually bright red
  • A lump hanging down outside of the anus, which may need to be pushed back in after passing a stool
  • A mucus discharge after passing a stool
  • Soreness, redness and swelling around your anus
  • Pain or discomfort when sitting especially
  • Pain during bowel movements
  • Itching or irritation around the anal region

 


How can Haemorrhoids be managed?

  • Gradually increasing the amount of fibre in your diet- good sources of fibre include fruit, vegetables, wholegrain rice, whole wheat pasta and bread, pulses and beans, seeds, nuts and oats
  • Drinking plenty of fluid- particularly water, but avoiding or cutting down on caffeine and alcohol
  • Not delaying going on the toilet- ignoring the urge to empty your bowels can make your stools harder and drier, which can lead to straining when you do need to go to the toilet
  • Losing weight if you are overweight
  • Regular exercise


Haemorrhoids Prevention Tips 

Limit Alcohol and Spicy Foods

Alcohol can be dehydrating and hard on the digestive system, making haemorrhoid symptoms worse. Spicy foods can intensify the symptoms of haemorrhoids. To be safe, limit these foods until the haemorrhoids have cleared up. 

Practice Better “Toilet Habits”
 
Avoid Straining
 
Straining during a bowel movement can be painful and make hemorrhoid problems even worse. Don’t wait too long before going to the toilet. Pay attention to your body’s signals, and when you feel an urge to use the bathroom, go right away. Otherwise the stool will become harder, and this will automatically make you push harder. When you’re at the toilet, take your time and relax your body.

Prevent Constipation

Constipation forces you to strain while using the bathroom, and that will increase the pain and inflammation of the haemorrhoid. To avoid constipation, drink plenty of fluids, engage in regular physical activity and eat high-fibre foods that make stools soft. These steps also help answer how to get rid of haemorrhoids or prevent them in the first place.

Avoid Prolonged Sitting on the Toilet

Spending too much time on the toilet can worsen haemorrhoids. Don’t read or distract yourself while using the bathroom; this only leads to more time spent straining.

Clean Yourself Thoroughly

If stool is left behind after you wipe, it can aggravate haemorrhoids even more, which is why it’s important to cleanse yourself thoroughly after going to the bathroom. Do not, however, cleanse yourself too roughly or use soaps that contain harsh chemicals, alcohol or perfumes. Instead, use plain water to wipe yourself and then dry your bottom afterward. A Warm Bath which involves sitting in warm water for 10 minutes, twice daily, is helpful to patients with anal itching, aching or burning and is known as one of the best ways to get rid of haemorrhoids fast.