Piles: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Health and Nutrition

Piles, also known as Hemorrhoids, are swollen veins in the lowest part of the rectum or the anus that commonly cause rectal bleeding. Piles can either be mild or severe. If it is a mild case of piles, chances are that it will heal on its own in a week or two. However, in more severe cases, when the pain is unbearable and the condition persists for a longer duration, consultation with a medical professional is recommended. If piles continue to persist and cause discomfort the doctor may even opt for removal via surgery to offer patients long-term relief. 


Causes of Piles

Piles are caused by increased pressure in the lower rectum. This causes the blood vessels around the anus and in the rectum to stretch, swell and bulge. This usually happens due to the following reasons.

  • Strained bowel movements due to a low-fibre diet.
  • Pregnant women usually suffer from piles due to increased pressure of the enlarged uterus on the rectum and anus.
  • Sitting for prolonged periods on the toilet.
  • Obesity
  • Old age
  • Anal intercourse
  • Lifting heavy weights regularly
  • Chronic diarrhoea or constipation
  • Hereditary history of haemorrhoids
  • Persistent cough or vomiting


Symptoms of Piles

If an individual has piles, he/she will experience the following symptoms.

  • Itching in the anal area
  • Pain and discomfort in the anal area
  • Bleeding during bowel movements
  • Swelling around the anal area
  • Feeling of a hard and painful lump around the anus.
  • A feeling that bowel movements are incomplete even after having passed stool.


In severe cases of piles, a person will experience the following symptoms-

  • Excessive anal bleeding, also possibly leading to anaemia
  • Infection
  • Faecal incontinence, or an inability to control bowel movements
  • Anal fistula, a tunnel that runs from inside the anus to somewhere in the skin around it
  • Strangulated haemorrhoid, in which the blood supply to the haemorrhoid is cut off, causing complications including infection or a blood clot.

According to symptoms, piles are classified into four grades, which are-

  1. Grade I: The inflammation is smaller and inside the lining of the anus
  2. Grade II: The piles are situated inside the anus but are larger and may get pushed out during bowel movements.
  3. Grade III: This is the case of prolapsed haemorrhoids where the piles appear outside the anus. The individual may feel them hanging from the rectum, but they can be easily pushed back in.
  4. Grade IV: These piles are large, located outside the anus, and cannot be pushed back in. Hence, they require treatment. 



Medications and a few lifestyle changes can help in the treatment of piles. Here are some things that can be done to treat piles.

  1. Change your diet by adding more fibre. Eating fruits, vegetables or bran-based breakfast cereals can help to keep the stools regular and soft. 
  2. Stay active and exercise regularly to reduce the incidence and severity of piles.
  3. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications like painkillers, ointments, creams, and pads, and can help soothe redness and swelling around the anus.
  4. Stay hydrated and remember to drink six to eight glasses of water every day to ease bowel movements.
  5. Avoid long periods of sitting in the toilet since doing so can increase the pressure on the veins in the anus.

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