Piles, also referred to as haemorrhoids, is a common condition which often gets better on its own after a few days, but during this time can prove very uncomfortable. There are a number of treatments recommended for piles, but knowing if you have the condition in the first place is very important.
External haemorrhoids tend to be more visible and, according to Mayo Clinic, cause four symptoms:
- Itching or irritation in your anal region
- Pain or discomfort
- Swelling around your anus
But the signs and symptoms of piles does depend on the type of piles you have.
Two other types of piles to look out for are internal haemorrhoids and thrombosed haemorrhoids.
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Piles symptoms: Do you have external haemorrhoids? There are four signs to look out for
Internal haemorrhoids lie inside the rectum. Mayo Clinic adds: “You usually can’t see or feel them, and they rarely cause discomfort.
“But straining or irritation when passing stools can cause painless bleeding during bowel movements.
“You might notice small amounts of bright red blood on your toilet tissue or in the toilet.”
Internal haemorrhoids may also cause a haemorrhoid to push through the anal opening, resulting in pain and irritation.
Thrombosed haemorrhoids occur if blood pools in an external haemorrhoid and forms a clot.
This can result in:
- Severe pain
- A hard lump near your anus
Treatment for piles
The NHS recommends a number of ways to treat piles. These include:
- Drinking lots of fluid and eat plenty of fibre to keep your poo soft
- Wiping your bottom with damp toilet paper
- Taking paracetamol if piles hurt
- Taking a warm bath to ease itching and pain
- Using an ice pack wrapped in a towel to ease discomfort
- Gently pushing a pile back inside
- Keeping your bottom clean and dry
- Exercising regularly
- Cutting down on alcohol and caffeine (like tea, coffee and cola) to avoid constipation
Piles symptoms: Itching in your anal region can be a sign of external haemorrhoids
You should avoid:
- Wiping your bottom too hard after you poo
- Ignoring the urge to poo
- Pushing too hard when pooing
- Taking painkillers that contain codeine, as they cause constipation
- Taking ibuprofen if your piles are bleeding
- Spending more time than you need to on the toilet
Your local pharmacist can also suggest creams to ease the pain, itching and swelling, treatment to help constipation, and cold packs to ease discomfort.
When to see a doctor
If there’s no improvement after seven days of treatment at home, the NHS recommends seeing a GP.
Also, if you keep getting piles, your GP may prescribe stronger medicines for haemorrhoids or constipation.
You should ask for an urgent GP appointment or call 111 if you have piles and your temperature is very high or you feel hot and shivery and generally unwell.
Do the same if you have pus leaking from your piles.
It’s also important to note bleeding from your bottom can be a sign of bowel cancer.