Piles or hemorrhoids are a cluster of inflamed and enlarged tissue that develop in and around the anal canal (external) or the lower rectum (internal). They aren’t just clumpy skin tissue, they also contain blood vessels, muscle, and elastic fibres. That’s why they can often be quite painful.
Piles are caused by chronic constipation, chronic diarrhoea, straining to lift heavy weights or pass stool, pregnancy, or consuming a low-fibre diet.
They are graded on a scale from I to IV, with grade ‘I’ being the least severe and grades ‘III’ or ‘IV’ requiring surgery. If your hemorrhoids are bleeding, then it is most likely a grade IV condition.
This condition is so common that at least three out of every four people across the world suffer from piles at some point in their lives. As long as you consult a proctologist and try the following piles treatments, you can rest assured you can rid yourself of these painful ordeals.
There are various options for oral medication when it comes to piles treatment. These can help make manage the symptoms.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medications: Over-the-counter medications include painkillers, ointments, creams, and pads. These can help soothe redness and swelling around the anus. This is a temporary solution until the other forms of piles treatment start having an effect.
- Corticosteroids: These too merely reduce inflammation and pain.
- Laxatives: Your doctor may give you laxatives if you suffer from constipation to enable you to pass stool more easily and decrease pressure on your lower colon.
2. Non-surgical methods
Around 1 in 10 people with piles will end up needing surgery. These are more permanent solutions for piles treatment.
- Rubber Band Ligation: An elastic band is tied around the base of the pile, thus cutting off its blood supply. After a few days, the hemorrhoid will automatically fall off. This is effective if your pile isn’t bleeding.
- Doppler-guided artery ligation: Instead of removing the hemorrhoids, this method cuts off their blood supply. This treatment works best for grades II/III. Although this procedure is meant to reduce post-operative pain, 20% of patients still report pain when passing stool.
- Sclerotherapy: Medicine is injected into your hemorrhoid to make it shrink. This is procedure is only effective for grade II and III hemorrhoids.
- Heat coagulation: There are some piles treatments that use heat to destroy the hemorrhoid tissue. They are bipolar diathermy, direct-current electrotherapy, and infrared photo-coagulation. With the help of these procedures, the tissues in and around the hemorrhoids are burned, causing scar tissue to form. They are good for grades I, II, III hemorrhoids. It is a painful procedure, but less painful than ligation, and bleeding occasionally occurs. Other such methods are laser and radio-wave ablation have been done.
3. Surgical procedures
If your hemorrhoids are bleeding, this is possibly the ultimate and the most effective option. Consult your doctor for the best advice.
- Haemorrhoidectomy: In this case, the excess, inflamed tissue that is causing the bleeding is surgically removed. You may require a combination of local anaesthetic, a spinal anaesthetic, or a general anaesthetic. This is the most effective way to get rid of piles, but there may be complications, like difficulties in passing stools, and urinary tract infections.
- Hemorrhoid stapling: In this type of surgery, the blood flow to the hemorrhoid is blocked. Although this is a much less painful procedure than haemorrhoidectomy, you may suffer from hemorrhoid recurrence and rectal prolapse.
4. Home remedies
- Warm Sitz Bath: This form of piles treatment may even be recommended by your doctor. A sitz bath requires you to sit in a few inches of warm or saline water, with only your hips and buttocks are immersed, for 15 to 20 minutes thrice a day. This usually helps decrease inflammation. Make sure to dry off the anal area completely after each bath.
- Eating a high-fibre diet: This is more of a prevention than a cure. You must ensure that your stool is soft, so they are easy to pass. Eating a high-fibre diet and drinking plenty of fluids (including 6-8 glasses of water each day) can help you keep your stools soft and reduce constipation. This is a definite way to lower your risk of developing new hemorrhoids.
Would you be surprised to hear that Napoleon Bonaparte lost the Battle of Waterloo because he was distracted by his painful hemorrhoids? Even American actor and film producer George Clooney and British footballer David Beckham suffer from hemorrhoids.
In fact, it is so common that an estimated 75% of people experience enlarged hemorrhoids at some point, but only about 4% visit a doctor for them.
Sometimes piles may go away on their own, but often they don’t or they tend to recur. If home remedies and over-the-counter medicines don’t work, consult your proctologist about other piles treatment options.