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What are Piles?

Piles, also known as hemorrhoids, are swellings in the interiors of the short, muscular tube which connects the anus and the rectum. They usually occur in the anal canal, in the areas called pads or cushions. They can be described as skin covered inflamed blood vessels mostly in the lower rectal and anal region. It occurs when one of the pads or cushions slips down, because the surrounding tissue is unable to hold it up properly. As this happens, the veins in the pad swell up with blood. The main reason for the occurrence of piles is excessive pressure on the blood vessels of the lower rectal and anal region.

 

Piles can be classified into the following types:

  1. First degree piles occur when the engorged pads remain inside the anal canal; they are usually painless.

  2. Second degree piles occur when the swollen pads get pushed down while passing stools, but return to their original position afterwards.

  3. Third degree piles occur when the inflamed pad gets pushed down while passing stools as well as at other times and does not return to its original position afterwards.

  4. External piles are dark red swellings and occur outside the anus, and are extremely painful.

Causes of Piles

Here are some of the factors that lead to the development of piles:

  • Chronic constipation: This is one of the major causes leading to the development of piles. Excessive pressure or straining while passing stools causes the anorectal veins to swell up and result in piles.

  • Obesity: The extra body weight also exerts more pressure on the blood vessels of the anal and the rectal region, creating ideal conditions for the development of piles.

  • Low fiber diet: Low fiber content in the diet leads to the formation of dry and hard feces, causing straining during bowel movements.

  • Low intake of fluids: Water helps in the formation of softer and bulkier feces. The lack of fluid leads to hard and dry feces, which again causes straining during defecation.

  • Chronic diarrhea: This leads to overstraining of the anal and rectal veins resulting in the formation of piles.

  • High alcohol and caffeine intake: Alcohol and caffeine in drinks like coffee, tea and soft drinks act as diuretics, which cause the body to lose water very quickly. Loss of water again leads to the formation of dry and hard stools and causes difficulty in bowel movements.

  • Pregnancy: During pregnancy, the growing uterus puts a lot of pressure on the pelvic veins, leading the veins below the veins becoming inflamed. Also, a number of hormones are released during pregnancy. All this may lead to the development of this condition.

  • Aging: With age, the supporting structures in the anal and rectal region weaken, leading to piles.

  • Lifting heavy weights: Strenuous physical exercise without proper training and lifting very heavy weights can put a lot of pressure on the blood vessels in the anal and rectal region.

  • Standing or sitting for long periods: Due to our erect posture, sitting or standing for prolonged periods can lead to the development of piles.

Common Symptoms of Piles

Piles are characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Bleeding: One of the most common symptoms of piles, bleeding usually occurs while passing stools. Blood stains may be detected on the toilet paper or the toilet bowl after the bowel movement and is usually painless.
  • Itching: It occurs as a result of the seepage of fluids or mucus because the pads are unable to keep the mucus inside. As the mucus seeps out it irritates the area surrounding the anus causing a lot of discomfort to the patient.
  • Aching Pain: Pain is the result of inflammation around the pile and also because of the rubbing of the inner lining of the inflamed area in the anal canal while passing stools.
  • Protrusions: In advanced stages, hard painful lumps called protrusions are formed in the anus. These can be felt while passing stools or while wiping the area with toilet paper.
  • Anal Leakage: The development of large protrusions causes the rectum to stay open which results in the leakage of feces from the anus.

Information about piles can help in the detection of this condition at an early stage and help in seeking treatment before it aggravates. If you are looking for complete information on the causes, symptoms and treatment of piles,