Hemorrhoids (piles) are swollen blood vessels or veins that line the anal canal and the lower rectum. Since humans stand upright, this causes downward pressure on all veins in the body. Gravity imposes a constant load on the delicate veins that supply to the anus, and abdominal pressure of any kind makes matters worse. Any kind of pressure causes an excessive flow of blood to the rectal area like straining when passing stools, lifting a heavy object and sometimes, even coughing tightens the abdominal muscles, thus squeezing on the veins. The pressure builds up in the rectal area and blood piles up.
There are two categories of hemorrhoids called internal and external hemorrhoids. Internal hemorrhoids lie inside the rectum, so they can’t be seen. Bleeding may be the only sign that they are there. Sometimes internal hemorrhoids prolapse, i.e they enlarge and protrude out through the anus. External hemorrhoids occur under the surface of the skin at the anal opening.
Causes of hemorrhoids
Various causes have been attributed to the development of hemorrhoids – from gravity to genes. If one parent has it, then it’s more likely that the child will develop them when they are an adult. Obesity is another factor that puts more pressure on those veins. Pregnancy also puts additional pressure on the rectal area as the fetus grows. Pregnancy-related hemorrhoids retract usually when the child is born. Other causes of hemorrhoids are prolonged sitting without activity, prolonged standing, strenuous work, and mental stress. The most important causes are:
Constipation is one of the most common causes of piles. Avoiding constipation in the first place would help in preventing hemorrhoids. The pressure applied to pass a stool to empty constipated bowels and the clogging caused by constipation most certainly leads to piles. The major cause of constipation is bad eating habits and lifestyle choices. More on constipation and its remedies
Use of laxatives
The use of laxatives to relieve constipation has an irritating and weakening effect on the lining of the rectum. This leads to enlargement and inflammation of the vein and bleeding.
Diet plays a very important role in preventing hemorrhoids. It also is an important cause for the development of hemorrhoids. Those who eat a low fibre diet and lots of processed food are more likely to get hemorrhoids. Inadequate intake of fluid is also a cause. The two lead to hard stools which lead to straining, thus aggravating the hemorrhoids.
Symptoms of hemorrhoids
- Pain while passing stools.
- Bleeding while passing stools.
- Itching, discomfort and pain in the rectal region.
- A mucous anal discharge
Self care treatment for hemorrhoids
To treat piles, you have to treat the basic cause of it, namely constipation. There are some simple treatments that can be tried at home, which may be effective in curing hemorrhoids.
Keep stools soft so that they don’t put pressure on the hemorrhoids. When the stools are soft, you won’t need to strain them when you go to the toilet. This will reduce the bleeding, itching, and protruding of piles. You can keep the stools soft by
- Eating plenty of fibre rich food, in the form of fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains.
- Staying away from processed foods and meat as far as possible
- Drinking lots of water and fruit juices. Drinking lots of water softens the stools. Drink atleast eight glasses of water everyday.
Changing toilet habits
One must go to the toilet as and when the need is felt. When you postpone it, it leads to the problem of straining. Also, do not sit on the toilet for more than five minutes at a time. If you go as soon as you feel the need, you will not have to spend more than five minutes on the toilet.
Regular exercise helps. Movements that exercise the abdominal muscles improve circulation in the rectal region and relieve congestion.
Cold water treatment
Do not scratch as it makes it worse. Instead, a cold water pack or compress can be applied to the rectal area. Coldwater treatment is done by sitting in a tub filled with cold water for two minutes, with the knees drawn up to your chin. The water level should cover your hips.
Start eating a high-fibre diet. Fibre-rich food is fruits such as papaya, melon, apple, pear, grapes, and pineapples. Vegetables that are high in fibre are spinach, cabbage, kidney beans, and radish. Nuts and dry fruits like coconut, figs, and raisins, and almonds are rich in fibre. Also include whole grains like wheat, oat bran, alfalfa, wholemeal cereals, and milk. The food to be avoided are meat, fish, eggs, cheese, white sugar, sweets, rice, white flour products, tea, coffee, and fried foods.
Home remedies for hemorrhoids
- Soak 3-4 dry figs in water overnight. Have the figs along with the water in which it was soaked first thing in the morning and repeat the process in the evening. The seeds in the figs help to remove the faeces and keeps the alimentary canal clean.
- The seeds of the mango is a very effective remedy for bleeding piles. Dry the seeds and powder them. Store in a jar and have 1-2 gms daily with or without honey.
- The Jambul fruit (Syzygium cumini) is considered to be very good remnedy for piles. Since it is seasonal, having the fruit with salt every morning during the season (about two to three months) will protect one from getting this ailment.
- Another valuable remedy is the white radish. Grated radish mixed with honey helps treat piles. Half a glass of white radish juice taken with a pinch of salt twice a day also helps to treat piles.
- Grind radish into a paste and mix with milk. Apply this over the inflammed hemorrhoids to relieve pain and swelling.