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Lining the lower portion of the rectum and anus, they look like oval pink-bluish swellings, but are actually a cluster of veins filled with blood supplied by six arteries in the rectal wall.

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Piles are usually mild and sometimes they may not cause any symptoms at all.

However, in more severe cases, symptoms may include the following:

– blood after passing a stool
– a pile may move down and present outside of the anus
– itchiness around the anus

Prolonged constipation can also cause piles, straining when on the toilet can put pressure on the blood vessels in and around the anus, causing them to swell.

Other Symptoms

They may become hard if thrombosis occurs (when a clot forms in the blood vessel, blocking it). In this case, the muscles of your anus will tighten around the haemorrhoid, causing it to become hard and painful. They may only appear after straining on the toilet.

Bleeding from the back passage: The mucosa or membrane that covers the haemorrhoids is quite delicate and if it’s damaged there may be bleeding. This is usually seen as small amounts of bright red blood on the toilet paper or surface of the motions. Occasionally, they cause severe bleeding.

Below is a list of the types of Haemorrhoid symptoms, they will present themselves in one or more of the following ways:

– Fresh, painless rectal bleeding
– Itching and soreness around your bottom
– Discomfort or pain while you’re going to the toilet
– Occasional sharp pains in your bottom
– Lumps protruding from the anus after opening your bowels
– Larger piles might be permanently visible and easily touched
– Slimy mucous or brown discharge
– Feeling like your bowels are full and still need emptying



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Up to 50% of people in the UK and Ireland will suffer from them in their lifetime. There are several potential causes of haemorrhoids or piles.

The Causes Of Piles

Piles tend to be caused by factors that can cause the blood vessels to enlarge. This excess in pressure on the blood vessels in and around the anus can be caused by factors such as pregnancy, being overweight and constipation.

If you are constipated and strain while trying to pass stools, it can put pressure on these blood vessels and make them inflamed and swollen.

Factors which may cause haemorrhoids (piles):

– Straining during bowel movement
– Prolonged constipation
– Pregnancy (this can put increased pressure on pelvic blood vessels, causing them to become swollen).
– Anal infections
– A diet which is low in fibre (which can cause constipation)
– Lifting heavy objects regularly
– Hereditary factors or if you are born with a weakness in your rectum
– Being over the age of 50 – (the supporting tissues in your body become weaker as you get older, which can increase the risk of developing piles).
– Prolonged episodes of diarrhoea
– As you age, you may be more likely to get piles because the support structures in your rectum weaken.
– Being overweight

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You can help prevent the irritating and painful symptoms of haemorrhoids. Daily bowel movements that are solid but soft do not require straining, and won’t put pressure on blood vessels; this can help to prevent piles.

To prevent haemorrhoids or reduce the symptoms, we highly advise you to follow these tips:

– Eat lots of high fibre foods. Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
– Reduce the amount of processed foods
– Drink plenty of fluids, especially water and fruit juice, 8 glasses a day is recommended.
– Limit the amount of caffeine and alcohol you drink because they can contribute to dehydration.
– Regular, light exercise e.g. walking will help encourage bowel movement, prevent constipation and reduce pressure on veins, which can occur with long periods of standing or sitting.
– Avoid sitting on the toilet for prolonged lengths of time. Avoid straining and holding your breath when trying to pass a stool can create greater pressure in the veins in the lower rectum.
– Don’t avoid the need to go to the toilet. Respond instantly to the urge to have a bowel movement. Do not postpone until the time is perhaps more convenient.

Health Tips

Take a look at our health tips so you can prevent haemorrhoids.

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Pregnancy & Piles

What can you do about pregnancy and piles?

Piles are very common and many women will have some experience of them before they become pregnant. At least one in ten women will develop them in the third trimester and one in five new mothers will develop them after giving birth.

Piles during pregnancy are not inevitable but you can do your bit to keep them at bay by following the usual health advice – avoid constipation by keeping up fibre content in your diet, drink plenty of water and try to be as active as possible.

Another way to prevent suffering from piles during pregnancy is to always answer the call of nature rather than hold off and if you have difficulty passing a motion try propping your feet up on a stack of telephone directories while seated on the toilet to avoid straining.

Pelvic floor exercises

After birth you should try to keep the area as clean as possible by using moist toilet tissues, which will also be helpful if you are dealing with stitches, and keep up the pelvic floor exercises to help bring everything back into line.

Read Natalie’s Story: Here

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