You have surely heard the terms hemorrhoids and piles before and you may have wondered what the difference is between them. Well, you are in the right place because this article will tackle topics like hemorrhoids vs piles, where they come from, and everything in between.
Hemorrhoids vs Piles
Piles and hemorrhoids are not different conditions; they are one and the same. Therefore, you can use the two terms interchangeably.
What are Piles (Hemorrhoids)?
Piles are clumps of distended or swollen veins in the anus and lower rectum. They affect many people and 3 out of 4 adults have suffered from hemorrhoids at some point in their lives. Piles are categorized into two; internal and external hemorrhoids. Internal hemorrhoids are found in the lower part of the rectum while the external ones are present in and around the anus.
What Causes Piles (Hemorrhoids)?
Piles develop when the anus and rectum are placed under so much pressure that their blood vessels swell with blood because their flow is interfered with. This can occur because of several reasons:
Straining While Passing Stool
When you struggle to pass stool because of chronic constipation, it strains the blood vessels in the rectum and anus and may result in piles.
When your body has to endure more weight than it should, the veins in the lower part of the body get affected. This is also inclusive of veins in the anus and rectum which may distend in the process.
If you have family members with piles, you are also at risk of developing them. Sometimes, weak muscles of the anus and rectum run in families.
Sitting for Long
If have a job that makes you sit at your desk or you have a habit of camping on your toilet seat, you may develop hemorrhoids as a result. This is because sitting for too long stretches the tissue and muscles of the rectum and anus, causing their blood vessels to bulge and get engorged with blood.
Fetuses settle on their mother’s inferior vena cava and hinder the proper flow of blood from the lower regions of the body to the heart. This gets worse as the pregnancy progresses towards the end so many pregnant women suffer from swollen feet and hemorrhoids.
Chronic diarrhea causes you to pass stool way more than usual and this actually strains the anus and rectum. Hemorrhoids may, therefore, develop because of this.
As you get older, the muscles in your rectum and anus get weaker and weaker. Eventually, it becomes difficult for them to withstand a lot of strain so when pressured, piles can easily develop.
What are the Symptoms?
The symptoms that you should look out for to know whether you have piles are:
- You will feel hard lumps around the anus as you wipe
- Discomfort while sitting
- Itchiness or irritation
- Blood on the stool or in the toilet
- Pain as you move your bowels and soon afterward
How are Piles (Hemorrhoids) Diagnosed?
Sometimes, self-diagnosing piles after observing physical symptoms may lead to a misdiagnosis. To get an accurate diagnosis, you need to visit a doctor. Doctors perform a digital examination and/or a visual examination to ascertain the presence of piles.
In the digital examination, the doctor inserts a gloved finger up your anus to feel for any abnormal lumps. On the other hand, a visual examination is used to detect internal hemorrhoids which are usually deep inside or too soft to be felt. Instruments such as anoscopes and sigmoidoscopes are used to light up the rectal and anal canal so that piles are seen clearly.
How Are They Treated?
Piles can be treated using natural home remedies, medication, or medical procedures.
Natural Home Remedies
When you place ice wrapped in a towel to your hemorrhoids, it will relieve inflammation, pain, and irritation. This is because ice is able to shrink blood vessels.
Coconut oil is a very powerful moisturizer so applying it to the piles will soothe the pain and irritation.
Soaking in a tub of warm water mixed with Epsom salts or essential oils will be very soothing to the pain, inflammation, and irritation of piles. This is the case because warm water is very good at boosting blood circulation.
Freshly extracted aloe vera gel has natural anti-inflammatory properties so you can apply it to your piles to relieve irritation, pain, and inflammation.
Hemorrhoid Formula Oil quickly reduce swelling. For external hemorrhoids, prolapsed, thrombosed, minor bleeding. Oil is natural alternative to painful hemorrhoid surgery.
Taking ordinary over-the-counter painkillers when the pain gets too much will help reduce it. Examples include paracetamol and ibuprofen.
Anti-hemorrhoidal drugs can be bought over-the-counter at any drugstore near you. They may be creams, sprays, ointments, or suppositories made of compounds like hydrocortisone and witch hazel which reduce pain, inflammation, and irritation.
When the piles are too large, they may grossly affect the quality of your life and may not respond properly to other interventions. This is when medical procedures come in.
SclerotherapyIn this method, the doctor injects a chemical that shrinks down piles. It’s a minor procedure that only causes mild discomfort.
This procedure is where the doctor ties a rubber band on a hemorrhoid to starve it off and shrink it. This is also a simple procedure that can be done at the doctor’s office.
This is an actual surgical procedure where the piles are opened up and the distended veins are removed. Anesthesia is needed here because it’s painful.
Now that you know that you’re armed with vast knowledge about hemorrhoids, you can take the necessary steps in achieving a hemorrhoids-free lifestyle!