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Piles or hemorrhoids, commonly known as Bawaseer (बवासीर) in Hindi is a very common anorectal condition. Piles are collections of veins and tissues located at the anal area that becomes swollen and inflamed. Piles may develop around the anal skin or inside the rectum.
Piles is common in the case of both men and women. If global medical reports are to be believed, one out of every four adults suffers from piles or hemorrhoids at some or other point in their life. Piles is most common in people within the age group of 50-60 years but can affect people of other age groups too. No medical expert to date could ascertain the exact cause of hemorrhoids.
However, several risk factors have been identified which can significantly increase an individual’s chances of developing piles. Piles can be managed with home remedies to a certain extent at an initial stage, but when piles grow severe or become advanced, medical intervention is extremely important.
The condition of piles is formed by constant pressure in the lower rectum. When a person constantly exerts pressure in areas around his rectum and the anus, due to reasons like constipation or lifting heavy weights, the blood vessels around those parts bulge and become swollen, forming piles. Due to constant straining, sometimes the veins might get wider and engorged with more blood than usual. These veins might form into one or more piles.
If it is a case of external piles, the anorectal specialist will be able to diagnose it just through physical examination. In case the hemorrhoids are internal, the doctor might do an examination of your rectum and anal canal. Two common tests which are done to diagnose piles are:
Self-diagnosis of piles is not very difficult if you are well aware of the symptoms. If you think you have hemorrhoids, you can be pretty sure about it by checking your rectal motions. If you have piles, you will feel a hard and painful lump around your anus and that is the first and foremost sign of piles. When a person develops piles, he or she may experience the feeling of incomplete bowel even after passing a stool. The color of the stool may visibly change in case of piles, which is yet another way to self-diagnose piles. If you develop the problem, the color of the stool may be bright red or visibly change into red. You may experience itchiness, soreness, and redness around the anal area. Additionally, you may also see blood in your stool or feel excruciating pain while passing a bowel movement.
Most proctologists or anorectal surgeons diagnose piles through physical examination alone. Once you visit the doctor’s clinic, you are likely to be asked a few questions, including:
The doctor may also do a digital rectal examination to diagnose your piles. The piles specialist may also suggest tests like colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, and anoscopy to check for the presence of any gastrointestinal disease. In all these tests, the doctor inserts a small camera to check for any abnormalities in the anus, rectum, and colon. If the doctor sees that your piles are in an initial stage, the doctor might recommend lifestyle changes and some changes in your food habits. But if your diagnosis shows severity in your condition, you might be recommended to undergo surgery for piles.
Piles surgical treatment is not a complex one. Hence, the chances of any risks are very rare. But, like any other surgical option, the success or risks associated with piles treatment are also highly dependent upon the severity of the condition and the surgeon’s experience. In rare conditions, a patient may suffer any of the following conditions after a piles surgery:
The most common possible complication of piles is that they can get strangulated if left untreated for a long time. When piles become strangulated, the blood supply to those tissues is cut off. Due to this, the person might experience venous thrombosis within the piles. This may cause severe pain and even make the treatment complex. In case of piles get strangulated, the person may experience excruciating pain within 48-72 hours which may gradually disappear after a week or so.
Another significant risk that a person may suffer if he or she leaves hemorrhoids untreated is anemia. Piles, when grows, may cause blood loss along with stool. If the problem is not treated in time, the constant blood loss may make the person anemic and that may further give rise to several other health complications.
In the words of Steven Kussin, a gastroenterologist based in New York, “Hemorrhoids are normal features of anatomy. We all have them.” Though people find it extremely discomforting to talk about piles or hemorrhoids, they are actually very common and can happen to anyone. There are no definite ways that can help prevent piles, but the condition can definitely be managed. Adopting the following can surely go a long way in helping you keep the painful anal disorder at bay.
1. Swear by fiber in your diet
Piles is most common in people who do not consume enough fiber in their regular diet. To prevent piles, one of the easiest and most natural ways is to stock up your diet with fiber-rich food. If you want to keep piles at bay, it is crucial to eat at least 25-30 grams of fiber per day. Some foods rich in fiber are:
– Whole grains, oatmeal, and brown rice
– Beans and lentils
– Vegetable and Brussels sprouts
– Fruits such as bananas, apples, pears, and berries
2. Drink sufficient water
Water along with a fiber-rich diet is very important for the prevention of piles. Drinking enough water prevents constipation which in turn decreases the need to strain while passing a bowel movement. If you want to prevent piles or manage your current condition of piles from becoming worse, add 6-8 glasses of water to your system. It will help your digestive system function properly.
3. Don’t hold the urge to pass stool
If you feel you need to go to the toilet, go, don’t wait. Going to the toilet when the system calls is actually a very simple way to prevent piles. Ignoring nature’s call can have its own complications and repercussions. When your body says you need to go and sit on the toilet seat, go, don’t hold. When you listen to your body calls, preventing piles from becoming worse is much easier and simpler.
4. Stop sitting on the toilet seat for too long
Don’t spend long hours reading a book or scrolling through the mobile sitting on the toilet seat. The more time you spend sitting on the toilet seat, the more likely you are to strain and make your bowel movements worse. The position of sitting on the toilet seat directly exerts pressure and stress on the blood vessels of the anus causing them to protrude.
5. Stay physically active
Hemorrhoids have a direct relation to physical activities and how you keep your body active. Staying physically active keeps the colon active and functions in a regular manner. But that being said, you should know which physical activity is good for you and which is not. Avoid any activity that puts strain and pressure on your abdominal region. Do not lift weights. Do not sit in one place for long hours. Moderate exercises like walking, jogging, yoga, and swimming can help the piles of tissues from flaring.
Fact: Hemorrhoids are caused by strain on the veins near the anus. The straining might be caused due to constipation or hard stool or by spending more time on the toilet seat. Spicy foods have no direct correlation with hemorrhoids. But since spicy foods might be hard on the digestive system, people might need to exert more pressure while passing the bowel after having any spicy food.
Fact: Age is not a factor for this disease. Yes, it is common in older people as the tissues get weaker but it can happen to anyone who has chronic constipation or strains during a bowel movement.
Fact: There is no such study or evidence that says hemorrhoids cause cancer. But you must visit a doctor if there is rectal bleeding as both colon cancer and piles have the same symptoms.
Fact: No, not all hemorrhoids need surgery as treatment. Hemorrhoids which are at an early stage, i.e. Grade 1 and Grade 2 piles can be easily managed with medication and regular home remedies. Hemorrhoids that get bigger in size, protrude out of the anal opening, and cannot be pushed back even after trying hard may need to be surgically removed since medicine and home remedies won’t be effective in such cases.
Fact: Hemorrhoids is not recurrent if you undergo the best treatment. With a success rate as high as 98%, laser surgery is considered to be the most effective treatment for hemorrhoids. If you undergo laser piles removal, there are almost nil chances that your piles will appear again. It is the best, most effective, and considered to be the only permanent cure for hemorrhoids.
Knowing when to seek professional help for any health condition is extremely important and hemorrhoids are no exception. Getting medical help at the right time can help you avoid unnecessary complications. If you experience any of the following complications or conditions, it is time you check with an anorectal surgeon.
Rubber Band Ligation: Rubber band ligation is a non-surgical approach commonly performed to treat piles. This is a non-invasive procedure and is performed on an outpatient basis, allowing you to return home on the same day of the procedure. In this procedure, the doctor will use a small tool to tie rubber bands around the piles lumps.
Within a few weeks after the procedure, the piles lumps will shrink and fall off naturally. While this method is quite effective, if dietary or lifestyle changes aren’t adopted to prevent piles, they may recur even after the procedure. This procedure is swift and ensures a quicker recovery compared to surgical methods.
Sclerotherapy: Sclerotherapy is another non-surgical procedure to treat piles. It is performed under topical anesthesia on an outpatient basis.
In this procedure, the doctor injects a special chemical into the piles to hinder the blood supply into the lumps. It will shrink piles over time and they fall naturally.
There are several medications available that can be used to manage the symptoms of piles.
Piles surgery is not a very complicated treatment and as such requires no thorough preparation. But like any other surgery, you need to follow the doctor’s instructions to ensure that your surgery goes well and you recover with no complications. Before your surgery for piles:
The recovery route after piles surgery is usually simple with no major complications. If you diligently follow the doctor’s recommendations and tips, you will not experience any complications.
Piles surgery is generally covered under health insurance. Most insurance companies offer a specific amount of coverage for piles and other anorectal diseases. The amount of coverage you have will depend on the policy you buy.
One thing you should know is that medical treatment for piles won’t be covered in the insurance policy. Only the expenses of surgical treatment are covered and you also need to be hospitalized for at least 24 hours to file for a claim. You can opt for cashless payment or get reimbursement claims from your insurance providers as well.
If your claim is approved, you will be able to cover the entire cost of treatment, including diagnostic tests, medications, hospital stay, bed charges, and other consumables. Some of the best and most popular healthcare insurance providers are Oriental, Religare Health, Manipal Cigna, United India Insurance, Care Health, New India Insurance, Star Health & Allied, Bajaj Allianz General Insurance, ICICIA Lombard, Max Bupa Health Insurance.
Irrespective of age and gender, any individual can suffer from hemorrhoids. Globally, over half the population suffers from piles by the time they turn 50. Hemorhhoids can equally affect both men and women. But the risk is a bit greater in the case of pregnant women and people over 3 years who do not follow healthy dietary and lifestyle habits.
Piles is a condition in which the anal tissues get swollen and inflamed and often protrudes out of the anal opening. An anal fissure is a tear that is caused by long periods of hard stool or diarrhea. Both the conditions are associated with common symptoms such as rectal bleeding, anal itching, and painful bowel movements. It can often be confusing to distinguish between the two. The best way to understand whether the condition is piles or fissures, the best way is to consult with an anorectal expert and get a detailed consultation to rule out potential complications.
The following factors may put you at an increased risk of getting piles:
If you are suffering from piles or any anorectal disease, you can first consult with a general physician. If the general physician finds any major problem in your health condition, the doctor is likely to refer you to an anorectal expert. In that case, you can consult with an experienced and trained colorectal surgeon, proctologist, and anorectal surgeon.
Home remedies can only manage the symptoms of piles from getting worse but not provide permanent relief to the condition. At-home remedies like topical ointments, sitz baths provide temporary relief from painful piles symptoms rather than fixing the cause of the disease. The only effective permanent treatment for piles is the surgical removal of the hemorrhoid itself.