Piles (Hemorrhoids) – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Piles (Hemorrhoids) – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Piles, medically known as hemorrhoids, are swollen/inflamed blood vessels located in or around the rectum and anus. The presence of these blood vessels is a normal feature of the human anatomy, the problem arises only when these become swollen and painful.

Piles are classified into two categories on the basis of their location, namely internal and external piles. Internal piles are situated within the anal canal, 2-4 cm above the anal opening while the external ones occur outside the anus. External piles are an uncomfortable condition, as they might get prolapsed during bowel movements and can be quite painful. On the other hand, internal piles are rarely painful and sometimes, one may not even be aware of them, bleeding being the sole indication of their presence.

Causes of Piles

Piles are a common condition, with as many as 50{c478bb159a3ffd2cf9a0d465504fe257d274e4492c7996716987ec7dff1da5ed} of people experiencing them at least once during their lifetime. The appearance of piles maybe attributed to a variety of causes.

  1. The chief cause of piles is excessive straining during bowel movements, which could be due to constipation which involves prolonged sitting on toilet seat. Chronic diarrhea could be another possible cause.
  2. Piles are also common during pregnancy resulting from enlargement of uterus which causes increased pressure on the veins around the anus.
  3. Obesity, ageing, lifting heavy weights and genetic factors could also result in appearance of piles.

Common Symptoms of Piles

In general, piles are characterized by itching and pain in the anal region. There may also be a discharge of mucus or blood while defecating, possibly accompanied by pain. You may also experience excessive straining while passing bowels along with redness and swelling in the affected area. A painful lump might appear in the anal region. Any kind of bleeding from rectum should be taken seriously; though it may be caused by something as simple as a hemorrhoid, it could also point to a potentially life-threatening condition like colo-rectal cancer.


Piles are diagnosed by a simple physical examination of the anus for some swollen veins. External piles are easily identified in this way, but a digital rectal exam or a test called anoscopy, to examine the anus have to be performed to check out for presence of internal piles, which could be the possible cause for rectal bleeding. Other tests, called colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy maybe performed to diagnose the cause of internal bleeding.

Treatment and Natural Remedies for Piles

Piles are a common but not life threatening condition, which generally resolves on its own without requiring much treatment. But in rare cases, some complications like blood clots and excessive bleeding resulting in anemia, may surface. Some simple lifestyle changes may be effective in managing the problem of piles naturally.

  1. Diet: Constipation is the primary cause of piles as it involves excessive straining during bowel movements. The best way to resolve this problem is to concentrate on a diet rich in fiber, constituting of cereals, fresh fruits and vegetables. Some natural stool softeners like isabgol (psyllium husk) can do wonders for your system. Increasing your water intake is the best way to keep constipation at bay.
  2. Exercise: Piles can also be attributed to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. Regular physical exercises, walking and yoga not only help one lose weight, they also encourage overall physical and mental wellness.
  3. Pain relief: Some creams, suppositories and ointments are available to provide pain relief from piles. Use of laxatives and stool softeners should be discouraged as they can be harmful in long run and one may become habitual to them. A natural pain relief technique is sitting in a tub of warm water for some time. Alternatively, application of ice pack on the anal area can also help.
  4. Medical procedures: In some cases, some medical procedures may be required. Rubber band ligation involves cutting off blood circulation in the hemorrhoid and tying rubber band around it, and it shrinks and falls off within a few days. Sclerotherapy is another technique by which a hemorrhoid is shrunk by an injection.

In some cases, surgical procedure is required for curing piles.

Piles is a common condition, for which people generally avoid seeing a doctor. Piles can be managed easily with timely medical intervention and some simple lifestyle and dietary changes. Moreover, one should try to change toilet habits, like sitting on the toilet seat for a long time and reading in the toilet.


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