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Do you have haemorrhoids (or piles)?

You may have a deficiency of fibre in your diet.

What are haemorrhoids?

Haemorrhoids, also known as piles are rather like varicose veins in the canal of the anus. Here, just under the mucous membrane (inner lining), is a considerable network of veins extending upwards for an inch or so from the level of the skin to just above the anal canal, where it joins the rectum. When the veins of this network become swollen with blood, haemorrhoids occur.

The vein swelling can affect the part of the network just above the anal canal, where it is less well supported by the muscular ring (sphincter), and this causes internal haemorrhoids. Or it may affect the veins at the lower end of the canal, just under the skin, causing external haemorrhoids. Some people have both.

Haemorrhoids are a common problem and affect around 50% of people at some time in their life.  Although uncomfortable and embarrassing, it is not normally a serious condition.

The common symptoms of haemorrhoids are: 

Itching around the anus
Signs of blood (bright red) on toilet paper after a bowel motion
Soreness and discomfort during and immediately after a bowel motion
A visible swelling around the anus
A feeling that your bowels have not been completely emptied

Sometimes haemorrhoids inside the anal canal protrude outside the anus. These are known as prolapsed or prolapsing haemorrhoids. At first, the haemorrhoid may go back in by itself, but later you might need to push it back in yourself using your finger.

Protruding haemorrhoids can lead to skin irritation and discomfort and there is usually mucus discharge from the irritated mucous membrane. Haemorrhoid scan become inflamed and swollen, but are rarely very painful, unless associated with an actual splitting of the anus (Anal fissure).

Haemorrhoids are thought to be caused by constipation.  If you have constipation over a period of time and often have to strain to pass hard stools, this can damage the lining of the anal canal. If this happens often enough, the veins may lose their normal support and protection. Some people are thought to have veins especially liable to this kind of injury. This is probably just a matter of chance anatomical variation.

Haemorrhoids are not caused by sitting on cold hard surfaces, prolonged standing or sedentary work.

Find out more about Haemorrhoids

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