Haemorrhoids (Piles)

What are haemorrhoids?
A normal anus has 3 fleshy pads inside. These pads, together with your sphincter muscles, keep stools and wind in the rectum until you are ready to release them. When your fleshy pads get damaged and donít function properly they are called piles or haemorrhoids. As many as one in five people experience some problems with haemorrhoids.

What are the symptoms of haemorrhoids?
Haemorrhoids contain many blood vessels and they bleed easily. The blood is usually bright red and you can see it on toilet paper, on the surface of the stool or as blood drips in the toilet pan. Large piles may hang out (prolapse out) of the anus, especially during defaecation. This can be painful. Patients with haemorrhoids may also experience itching and a persistent feeling of moistness in the anal area.

How can they be prevented and treated?
Small haemorrhoids can be prevented or treated by taking a high-fibre diet and by avoiding straining when going to the toilet. Haemorrhoids causing problems can be treated in the outpatient department by injecting them with a sclerosant fluid (which causes them to shrivel up), or by placing very small, tight rubber bands around a part of them, so they shrink and fall off. Large prolapsing haemorrhoids may need an operation under anaesthetic.

If you experience anal bleeding or any other significant anal symptoms please consult your doctor.

Further information

This article published on
28 November 2005

Next review date 11/1/2013


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