Q) What is Piles and what are some effective ways to prevent Piles?
A) Piles are a common health problem, but people often feel embarrassed talking about it. But the more you know, the better are your chances of preventing and managing it.
Piles, also known as hemorrhoids, are blood vessels in the anal and rectal area that have become inflamed and swollen due to excessive pressure or strain. If the stretching and pressure continue, the weakened blood vessels protrude.
Causes of Piles
The blood vessels in the rectal region are situated in a high pressure zone that try to pump the blood back to the heart against the gravitational pull. Any condition that raises the pressure in the anal canal over a period of time may result in inflammation and swelling of these blood vessels leading to piles. These include,
– Chronic constipation or diarrhea
– Straining during bowel movements
– Spending long periods of time (example reading) on the toilet
Symptoms of Piles
Some people may not even realize they have piles, as they do not experience symptoms. However, when symptoms do occur they may include,
– Bleeding after passing a stool (the blood will be bright red)
– Itching around anus
– A lump hanging down outside of the anus
– A mucus discharge after passing a stool
– Soreness, redness and swelling around anus
Piles can be prevented by making simple lifestyle changes. These include :
1 . Add Fiber to Diet
The best way to prevent piles is to avoid constipation. Fiber adds bulk and moisture to the stool, and it speeds movement through the intestinal tract. Have a high fiber diet containing fruits, legumes, vegetables and whole grains. Stay away from highly refined foods like white rice, white bread, pastries, cakes, pies. Limit alcohol and avoid acid forming foods like sugar, animal protein, dairy, caffeine drinks and soda.
2 . Stay Hydrated
Adequate fluid intake is also essential in preventing piles. Drinking at least 8 glasses of water daily helps in softening the stools.
3 . Avoid Straining
Straining and putting more pressure on the veins in your rectum is one of the most common causes of painful or bleeding piles. This can happen as a result of pushing too hard when trying to have a bowel movement.
4 . Do not ignore the Urge
If you wait to pass a bowel movement and the urge goes away, your stool could become dry and be harder to pass.
5 . Stay Fit
Stay active to help prevent constipation and to reduce pressure on veins, which can occur with long periods of standing or sitting. Exercise can also help you lose excess weight that may be contributing to your problem..
6 . Avoid long periods of Sitting
Sitting too long, particularly on the toilet, can increase the pressure on the veins in the anus.
Piles often clear up by themselves after a few days. However, there are many treatments that can reduce itching and discomfort. These include:
– Bathing in tubs with warm water eases painful piles in the early stages (Sitz Bath)
– Having fiber rich diet and drinking adequate amount of fluids
– Avoiding straining
– Using local anesthetic gels/creams
If the piles are painful and do not clear up by making lifestyle changes, doctor may suggest a surgical procedure after proper evaluation.