Piles, also known as hemorrhoids, is a condition that causes inflammation of tissue in and around the anal canal. These are essentially swollen veins which are present either inside the anus (or rectum) or outside the anus. Although anyone can get hemorrhoids, it becomes more common as people age. It is estimated that 50% of people suffer from piles by the time they are 50. Women usually develop this condition during pregnancy or labor. Dr. Parameshwar CM, Chief, SIICP (Bengaluru Smiles) explains in detail about how to manage and prevent hemorrhoids.
Are You At Risk Of Piles?
The primary cause of hemorrhoids is constipation, which becomes more common as people age. This is because with age it becomes more difficult to expel stool. This causes people to strain in order to expel stool, which in turn puts pressure on the veins in the rectal area causing it to enlarge. Other factors that can increase your risk of hemorrhoids is a family history of piles, obesity, and people suffering from liver diseases.
What Are The Symptoms Of Piles?
Hemorrhoids can be internal or external. Internal hemorrhoids are usually painless. However, if it protrudes outside the anus due to the formation of blood clots, it can be painful but is usually harmless. Some of the common symptoms of hemorrhoids are:
-A purplish lump around the anus
-A reddish mass of tissue around the rectum
-Bright red blood in the stool, toilet bowl, undergarments, or on toilet tissue.
-Mucus on undergarments
How To Prevent And Manage Haemorrhoids In People Aged 50 Or Above?
The easiest way to prevent hemorrhoids is to eat healthy and exercise regularly. If you are already suffering from hemorrhoids then making few lifestyle changes can help you to manage hemorrhoids and lead a healthy life.
Certain medications can cause constipation, which is one of the leading causes of hemorrhoids among those over 50. Hence, if you are suffering from hemorrhoids and are taking medications such as such as diuretics, iron supplements, antacids, antihypertensives, etc then do inform your doctor about the same. He may change the medication and prescribe a medication that doesn’t cause constipation and help you manage piles.
Constipation can often be alleviated by eating a diet rich in the fiber such as whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Hence, a fiber-rich diet when complemented with drinking sufficient water can help to soften the stool and add bulk to it allowing it to be easily pushed through the intestine and prevent hemorrhoids.
Stay hydrated. Drinking up to or more than 6 glasses of water every day may also help alleviate the symptoms of hemorrhoids or prevent its onset altogether. Importantly consuming alcohol or coffee does not equate with drinking plain water as both alcohol and coffee dehydrate the body.
Do not eat refined and processed foods as it may exacerbate the symptoms of hemorrhoids or lead to constipation which could lead to hemorrhoids. Hence foods such as chips, cakes, and candy should be avoided particularly among those close to or over the age of 50.
Exercise regularly as it can also help to prevent hemorrhoids and alleviate its symptoms. People who are above 50 and suffer from no disabilities should engage in regular physical exercise not only to prevent hemorrhoids or alleviate its symptoms but also to remain healthy.
It is also a good idea to not sit on a toilet seat for a long time as doing so can put a lot of strain on the veins around the anus or rectum. Moreover, gently cleaning the anus after a bowel movement prevents the area from becoming irritated and thus, prevents hemorrhoids.
In many cases, hemorrhoids can be treated easily and naturally at home. However, it is always recommended to visit a qualified coloproctologist to assess your condition and recommend the necessary treatment.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)