London: Dr. Scurr says, Piles, as hemorrhoids are more commonly known, can be hugely uncomfortable, but before I go into the treatments that might help, a brief anatomy lesson for everyone else. Piles are found in or around the lower rectum or anus on structures called ‘cushions,’ folds in the lining of the lower rectum, which helps to keep the area closed.
They occur when the blood vessels within these cushions become enlarged or swollen. A lack of understanding about these blood vessels has caused years of wrong ideas about why hemorrhoids develop.
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The main notion was that they are related to pressure in the abdomen – caused by coughing or straining – which causes them to swell. There is no evidence that hemorrhoids are due to constipation, infection, or aging. The current view is that the shearing (pulling) force of stool passing through drags the swollen blood vessels down and, in some cases, outwards.
They can affect anyone, but are more common in pregnancy (there is an increased abdominal pressure causing the blood vessels to enlarge) and then from middle age.
The symptoms include painless bleeding after you have been to the loo, discomfort or itchiness. Diagnosis involves, first off, the exclusion of other causes of bleeding – such as rectal cancer. It will include a visual inspection using a rigid tube or a flexible fiber-optic scope – a process called a sigmoidoscopy. No anesthetic is needed but, as it’s usually a specialist technique, your GP will have to refer you to a colo-rectal clinic.
When there is painless bleeding in healthy individuals who have not lost weight or had a change in bowel habits, it’s much more likely to be piles rather than cancer.
Once the diagnosis is confirmed, simple measures can be started, such as making the bowel habit normal – constipation only makes the problem worse. It will include the regular use of bulking-type laxatives, along with eating more fruit, vegetables, high-fiber breakfast cereals, and drinking a liter a day of water – dehydration can cause constipation.
Inflamed hemorrhoids can be soothed by the use of proprietary creams, foams, or suppositories – some, but not all, of which need a doctor’s prescription. These treat only the symptoms. via daily mail