Haemorrhoids (piles) - symptoms
Haemorrhoids (also known as piles) are swollen and inflamed veins in the rectum or anus. Symptoms often depend on whether a haemorrhoid is located on the inside or outside of the body. Bleeding during bowel movements is the most common sign of haemorrhoids.
Internal haemorrhoids lie inside the rectum and usually do not cause discomfort. However, straining or irritation when passing a stool can damage the surface of a haemorrhoid causing it to bleed. Sometimes, straining can push an internal haemorrhoid through the anal opening resulting in a protruding or prolapsed haemorrhoid, which can cause pain and irritation.
External haemorrhoids lie under the skin around the anus. When irritated they can itch or bleed. Blood can pool inside an external haemorrhoid and form a clot, which causes severe pain, swelling, and inflammation.
Haemorrhoids (piles) - Treatments
Most cases of haemorrhoids can be self-treated. More serious or repeat cases may require medication or a surgical procedure. Haemorrhoids can recur after treatment; hence, they are controlled rather than cured.
Non-surgical and surgical procedures
For an external haemorrhoid in which a clot (thrombosis) has formed, prompt relief can be obtained from your doctor by performing a haemorrhoid thrombectomy, which is a simple 'incision and drainage' procedure to remove the clot.
For persistent bleeding or painful haemorrhoids, the following non-surgical procedures to destroy the haemorrhoid can be performed in a doctor’s office:
Rubber band ligation, which involves using a rubber band to cut off the blood supply to the haemorrhoid causing it to shrivel and die
Injection (sclerotherapy), which involves injecting a substance into the haemorrhoid to make it harden and shrink
Electrotherapy (electrocoagulation), which is a type of heat treatment that causes the haemorrhoid to harden and shrivel.
If non-surgical procedures are not successful or if the haemorrhoids are particularly large, one of the following surgical procedures may be necessary:
Haemorrhoidectomy - removal of a haemorrhoid with a scalpel or laser, usually under general anaesthetic
Haemorrhoid stapling - removal of an internal haemorrhoid with a special staple gun that also inserts a ring of staples to close the wound and prevent bleeding.