Haemorrhoids or piles are located in the anus. The term, when used in a clinical sense, refers to the internal disruption or downward displacement of the anal cushions. The anal cushions are tissue structures rich in blood supply, that line the anus and contribute to anal closure.
In this video we are going to talk about something which is a pain in the proverbial. Hi, I’m Dr Joe.
Haemorrhoids are a very common thing for people to experience. Its one of these topics that a lot of people know about, we’ve all heard about it, a fair number of you watching have probably had one, it’s not a topic that you talk around the dinner table about.
Alright, let’s provide some simple, useful information that you may want to know about haemorrhoids. A haemorrhoid is a form of varicose vein. Now that might be the first surprise to a lot of people. It comes about when the haemorrhoidal vein, hence the name, swells up obviously at the anus. You get an external haemorrhoid if when that vein swells, it gets trapped outside the body. So in a different way, but also similar to varicose veins on the leg, where you get swelling on the veins there and you can see they’re a little bit blue and swollen. It’s the same sort of effect at the tail. You can see it a little bit more clearly on the legs than you can at the anus. As a consequence of this, there are a few symptoms that people will get with haemorrhoids. First and foremost is pain. It is swollen and it does get a little bit painful for most people. That’s a function of size; smaller haemorrhoids generally, but not always, tend to hurt a little bit less than larger ones.
The other symptom that people may get with haemorrhoids is, of course, bleeding. Now typically this will be fairly bright red coloured blood like you’ve cut yourself, because essentially you’re getting blood coming form the vein in a similar way to if you had say, cut your hand or your leg. Now the critical thing here is that there are a number of other causes of bleeding from the bowel, so if you do get bleeding from the bowel, it is important to go along to your GP and get things checked, because whilst haemorrhoids are one of the most common causes, they are not the only cause and there are other more sinister potential causes of bleeding. For example, like bowel cancer. It is worth saying thought that when it is very bright red blood it is more likely to be an external rather than an internal source, but it’s not always a 100% phenomenon.
Ok, what can we do about haemorrhoids? They’re not “serious” but they are painful. There are some simple remedies that can be used and most of them are now over the counter. We’re talking about suppositories, creams or gels that can be applied and their role is to shrink down the haemorrhoid and hence make it less painful. Prevention where possible is ideal. We know that haemorrhoids are a function of people having to strain or push a bit harder with bowel motions, so making sure that you’re drinking plenty of water and have enough fibre in your diet, so that when you do go to sit on the toilet that you’re not having to push or strain, is not only helpful when you do have a haemorrhoid but is helpful in terms of preventions. They’re not caused by sitting on cold floors. There are a few other wives’ tales and most of these are incorrect. However, anything that pushes a lot of pressure into the lower abdomen can contribute. So if people are lifting heavy weights or straining in any other way, there is potential for haemorrhoids to come about. But most commonly it is related to bowel motions and if people are having to strain with that. There are also some genetic factors and they can play a role too.
Ok, if you do get haemorrhoids there are some simple things that you can do and most of the remedies are over the counter. If you do have some bleeding from the bowel from whatever cause, it is important to go along and see your GP because whilst it may be that you’re told, “Yes, it is a haemorrhoid, this is how you need to treat it,” there are other potential causes and it’s worth getting it checked out. Prevention where possible, as I said before, is better than cure. And the most important thing to prevent the pain in the proverbial is drinking plenty of water during the day and having some fibre in your diet, preferably through fruits and vegetables or you can use a fibre supplement, so that when you do go to the toilet it is not like having to climb a mountain and having to push and strain too much.
For more information on haemorrhoids and how they are treated, see Haemorrhoids.