Hemorrhoids (also known as piles) are swollen veins around the anus. Hemorrhoids form when an increased pressure in the veins of the anus causes them to swell.
Symptoms of hemorrhoids
- Bright red blood on stool, on toilet paper, or in the toilet bowl after a bowel movement
- Anal pain or itching
- Pain during bowel movements
- One or more lumps near the anus, which may be painful
Symptoms usually go away within a few days, and some people with hemorrhoids do not have any symptoms.
Hemorrhoids may be caused by
- Straining during bowel movements
- Sitting on the toilet for a long time
- Lack of fiber in the diet
- Being overweight
What you can do
- To relieve symptoms
- Keep the anal area clean. Use mild unscented soap. Bathe daily and gently dry the area after bathing.
- Avoid using dry toilet paper. Instead, use wet toilet paper or wet wipes that do not contain perfume or alcohol.
- Avoid scratching or scrubbing the affected area.
- Use sitz baths. Sit in a tub of warm water for 10 minutes a few times a day.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects
To help soften your stools and prevent constipation
- Eat more high-fiber foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains
- Drink six to eight glasses of water a day
- Try an over-the-counter fiber supplement or stool softener
You can prevent hemorrhoids
- Exercise to prevent constipation. Exercise also helps to lose the extra weight that causes the hemorrhoids
- Avoid standing or sitting too long
- Try to soften your stools and prevent constipation
- Avoid straining during bowel movements
- When you feel the urge to go to the toilet, go as soon as you can.
When to see a doctor
See a doctor if you have the following
- Hemorrhoid symptoms that do not improve after a week of self-treatment
- Huge changes in bowel habits
- Very bad pain or bleeding
- Having a lot of bleeding which causes dizziness or lightheadedness
- Black, tarry stools, blood clots or blood mixed in the stool
- Leaking of stool
- Children less than 12 years old
Updated in Nov 2018
This article does not take the place of talking to your doctor or pharmacist. People with special health needs such as babies, children below 12 year old, elderly and pregnant ladies should see a doctor instead of self-treatment. Always read the instructions and warnings on the package before taking any medicine.