Piles aren’t something we think about unless we are already bearing its brunt and dealing with the pain. While attending a health webinar a few months back, I heard a doctor saying that we all have piles, all the time. Hearing this, made my eyeballs jump out of my face. Ahem, ahem, no, nope – thought clicked my mind. All these pretty-looking women around me comfortably sitting have piles? Doesn’t sound like it. Right after the webinar, I called her up and asked what she actually meant by that comment. I spent around an hour understanding the causes and symptoms of piles in Females. Throughout the conversation, we kept on throwing phrases like bowel moment, anal canals, etc. I didn’t know there was so much to learn about Piles.
“Piles are totally normal,” said the doctor. “They are anal tissues that support the anal canal. They hold the stool and gas inside the anal canal just the way pelvic floor muscles hold the urine from leaking”, she added. Only when they start hurting or showing symptoms, do ladies start to notice them.
After long conservation with the doctor, I went on Google to know how deep the problem is. How many people around the world are suffering from it? How severe it can get? The results I found were really shocking. The American College of Gastroenterology disclosed in a report that nearly half of the people around the globe have hemorrhoids. Diving deeper into the statistics, I noticed that the problem is more common in seniors who have crossed 50. It was even more shocking to see that only 5% of people sought medical care for piles. My dear ladies, if any one of you doubts that you are suffering from hemorrhoids, here are the top symptoms you should check for:
Top 5 Symptoms of Piles in Females
1. Painful lumps or swelling near the anus
“Piles can cause painful lumps or swelling around the anus”, said the doctor. “It can cause severe discomfort while evacuating the stool. Moreover, females may face difficulty in cleaning after the bowel movement. It is a very common symptom of external hemorrhoids. If the condition becomes intolerable, the patient may have to go through surgical treatment”, added the doctor.
2. Redness around the anus
“Painful piles can cause soreness and redness around the anus, which are signs of severe hemorrhoids condition. Straining or tightness during defecation can cause unbearable pain and can lead to other major problems. It is highly advised for people facing such symptoms to consult a healthcare professional as soon as possible”, the doctor instructed. Ladies can apply anti-inflammatory creams in both OTC forms and prescribed forms for relief. The doctor advised not to scratch the skin as it may cause other problems.
3. Discharge of mucus from the anus
Some females having enlarged and bulging piles can face leakage of mucus from the anus. It points toward severe health conditions that need to be taken care of urgently. Females who are facing such an issue must keep the anus and the surrounding areas clean, the doctor informed. She further added, “Females can use potassium permanganate crystals mixed with water to clean themselves after pooping.” Surgery may be recommended if this mucus discharge or pain does not stop.
4. Anal itching
Before talking about anal itching, the doctor explained a little about the types of piles. She said that generally, piles fall under two categories, external and internal. External piles develop below the skin surrounding the anus, whereas internal piles are found inside the rectum. She further educated, “When an internal hemorrhoid is prolapsed, which means it is pushed outside the anal sphincter, it brings along with it mucus that can cause significant irritation and itching in the sensitive area around the anus. While passing stool, when the mucus mixes with stool, the itching becomes more intense.”
Another major symptom of piles is bleeding. Internal, external, or thrombosed piles, all can bleed. Usually, bleeding happens after passing stool. Passing a hard stool or straining during a bowel movement can damage the surface of hemorrhoids, leading to bleeding. Ladies can see streaks or traces of blood on the tissues after wiping. Sometimes, blood may be visible in the stool or the bowl.
In some cases, a blood clot can form inside hemorrhoids. This condition is known as a thrombosed hemorrhoid. When a thrombosed hemorrhoid swells, the force from the surrounding tissues ruptures, leading to bleeding. Blood released from a thrombosed hemorrhoid is usually dark and clotted. Often, it is very painful, and medical treatment is required. Usually, the blood from bleeding hemorrhoids is bright. If you see darker colour, immediately notify your doctor. It may indicate some issues deep inside the gastrointestinal tract.
When should ladies worry about piles?
Ladies, a faint glimmer of good news is that piles are not going to directly harm your health. The only serious concern is that they can lead to anaemia if they are excessively bleeding, says the doctor.
Internal hemorrhoids need to be taken care of seriously, warns the doctor. “When you can’t see where the blood is coming from, it could be more serious, and you should consult a doctor immediately,” she added. Further, she informed me that the symptoms of colorectal cancer are also similar, so consulting medical professionals is necessary.
How can ladies prevent piles?
“I see people spending hours sitting on the toilet seat. Yes, it is a porcelain throne, but one should not treat it like a Zen palace. Nowadays, people have started using toilet seats as an escape from life, work, and everything”, she briefed.
Engaging on the phone and reading magazines while pooping is very harmful to the bum. Cheeks spread over the toilet seat and create immense pressure on anal tissues, leading to blood pooling in piles. The doctor said, “Do not bring reading materials and phones to the toilet and limit your time on it.”
Additionally, adding a lot of water and taking a diet full of high-fibre food is the key to keeping yourself healthy. Foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are very essential to keep fibre intake high, and sipping on soup, juices, and water can help keep bowels soft. Do not know how much fibre to eat? As per the doctor’s recommendation, ladies should consume 25 grams of fibre each day.
How do doctors diagnose piles?
While answering this question, the doctor said, “First of all, we conduct a visual examination of the anus to check for any signs of piles. Then, if we see some symptoms, we prescribe sigmoidoscopy.”
You may be wondering what is sigmoidoscopy? Right? Well, it is a test under which doctors use a small optic fibre camera to diagnose internal hemorrhoids. The sigmoidoscope is placed in a tube and inserted into the rectum. It provides a clear view of the inside and shows abnormalities if any.
Additionally, there are other tests as well. Your doctor may also prescribe other tests such as anoscopy, colonoscopy, and proctoscopy.
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Frequently Asked Questions
In India, it may usually vary from INR 10,000 to INR 2,00,000 depending upon your condition and the hospital you choose for the treatment.
If not taken care of properly, piles can lead to serious complications including anaemia, severe bleeding, pain while sitting and performing daily activities, pain during bowel movements, gangrene, and infections.
Only less than 10 percent of cases of piles require surgery. But it may become necessary when prolapsed piles or external piles become infected, painful, irritated or when there are serious complications.
Yes, in most cases, piles go away on their own within a week or so. Ladies can draw themselves a warm bath, and apply aloe gel or pure hazel to get quick relief from symptoms.
One of the easiest ways is to stay hydrated. The more dehydrated you are, the harder your poop is. Additionally, eating fibre-rich food helps bind water to stool. With proper hydration and a fibre-rich diet, the stool becomes softer, and you can pass it less traumatically. It will provide you immense relief from painful hemorrhoids