These are swollen veins (a bit like varicose veins in the legs),
which swell out of the wall of the anal canal. They can swell
so much that they appear down outside the anus (external haemorrhoids).
They produce symptoms of itching, burning, pain, swelling and
discomfort especially when defecating.
Haemorrhoids can bleed, and this fresh blood appears on the surface
of stools (but not mixed with the stool) or splashed in the toilet
or on toilet paper. Piles are caused by inadequate fibre or fluid
intake, leading to constipation that causes the patient to strain
or use a lot of pressure when defecating. Certain drugs can cause
constipation, hence piles.
Internal piles cannot be seen as they are too small to hang down
outside. External piles are more advanced, and hang down during
defecating. Some remain permanently hung down. (1st, 2nd, 3rd
degree piles respectively). Pain is usually a dull ache, worsening
on bowel movement. Itching is usually very troublesome and is
the main symptom referred to by patients.
You will generally be able to associate diet, pregnancy or a sedentary
occupation with haemorrhoids. Symptoms may include the dull ache,
itch, swelling, soreness, and constipation. The symptoms all tend
to stay around the anus. You should talk to your local pharmacist
if there is abdominal pain, stretching or nausea and vomiting.
You can treat piles that have been present up to 3 weeks. Have
you had haemorrhoids before, and if so, did you seek medical advice
at that time? If you have suffered with haemorrhoids before what
did you use? What, if anything, have you been using until now?
Certain drugs cause constipation, which can cause piles, so inform
the pharmacist about any such medication, prescription or OTC.
The underlying cause, of constipation must be addressed seek advice
on diet and lifestyle at your local pharmacy.We will also be able
to advise you on creams, ointments and suppositories for the relief
- Hygiene alone can do a lot for the itch of haemorrhoids, as
small amounts of faeces often cause the itching. The area should
be washed as frequently as possible (ideally after each bowel
- Soap dries the skin so a soap substitute is generally a better
- Drying should be with a patting rather than a rubbing motion
(which might tear the piles) and with soft tissue paper.
- A warm bath often helps with the discomfort.