Piles are soft swellings (a bit like spongy varicose veins) around the anus, which affect one in three of us at some point in our lives.
They are usually caused by some kind of increased pressure such as pregnancy, heavy weight lifting, or the straining associated with long term constipation.
Symptoms of piles
The main symptoms of piles are:
- itching or tender lumps around the anus
- discomfort or pain when opening bowels / passing stools or afterwards
- blood spotting, or bleeding from the back passage which is usually bright red bleeding on the toilet paper
- a feeling that the bowel is not completely empty after visiting the toilet and opening the bowels
- a heavy, dragging sensation around the anus.
Take a look at this helpful infographic: Is It Piles (Haemorrhoids) Or Bowel Cancer
Treatment of piles
Once confirmed as a definite diagnosis, piles do not generally cause serious problems and are safe to leave alone if they’re not bothering you. There are many self-treatment products sold in pharmacies, such as creams and suppositories, that can help. You should discuss your needs with your GP or pharmacist.
Bowel cancer can develop whether you have piles or not, so you must seek advice from your GP if the problems get worse or do not respond to the treatment prescribed.