Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus and lower rectum. Also called piles, the blood vessels become enlarged and swollen due to increased pressure within them caused by a number of factors. Cases of hemorrhoids in Singapore are very common as they will occur in adults from time to time.
Symptoms To Look Out For
Signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids can include:
- Irritation and itching in your anal region
- Bleeding during bowel movements – you may notice small amounts of bright, red blood in the toilet or when wiping on your toilet roll tissue
- Discomfort, pain and swelling around your anus
- A lump near your anus that may be sensitive or painful
When piles occur, they can also vary depending on the location.
External Hemorrhoids: They form under the skin external haemorrhoids be itchy or bleed.
Internal hemorrhoids: They develop and are located inside the rectum, where you usually can’t feel or see these hemorrhoids. Though they rarely cause discomfort, straining during passing stool can damage the hemorrhoid’s surface and cause it to bleed. Occasionally, an internal haemorrhoid can also be pushed through the anal opening through straining, also known as protruding or prolapsed haemorrhoid.
Thrombosed hemorrhoids: At times, a clot may be formed in an external haemorrhoid and can be extremely painful with swelling and inflammation. It can cause a hard lump near the anus which sometimes needs to be drained.
Causes Of Hemorrhoids
Under increased pressure, the veins around your anus will tend to stretch and swell up. Several common causes include
- Chronic diarrhoea or constipation
- Straining during bowel movements
- Anal intercourse
- Prolonged time spent sitting on the toilet
Prevention Of Hemorrhoids
The best way that can help in the prevention of hemorrhoids is to ensure your stools are kept soft, so they can pass easily without much straining. You can try these measures to reduce symptoms of hemorrhoids or prevent it from developing:
- Drink plenty of water to help keep stools soft.
- Don’t strain and hold your breath when trying to pass a stool, as it will create greater pressure in the veins in the rectum.
- Don’t wait too long to pass a bowel movement. Go to the toilet as soon as you feel the urge, as your stool could become dry and it will be harder to pass by then.
Seeing A Doctor For Hemorrhoids
Piles are common, and bleeding during bowel movements is a typical sign of hemorrhoids. On the other hand, blood in the stool can also be caused by other diseases such as colorectal cancer or polyp.
You should at least visit a clinic for the family doctor to confirm that the bleeding is indeed from piles or haemorrhoid and not something more serious. The family doctor may refer you to a gastroenterologist. A specialist in gastroenterology will talk to you about the options available and the costs involved.
Your doctor should perform a digital rectal examination by using a gloved, lubricated finger into your rectum and visual inspection with a proctoscope in the clinic.
For a more complete examination, colonoscopy is needed. Colonoscopy is needed for the investigation of blood in stool, change in bowel habit, abdominal pain. Those with a family history of colorectal cancer should also undergo colonoscopy. It is also recommended for anyone with a positive stool occult test and all who are above the age of 45.
Treatment for piles can involve medications like ointments and creams, minimally invasive and surgical procedures performed by specialists such as rubber band ligation and hemorrhoid stapling. You can also manage the mild pain and swelling of piles with lifestyle and home remedies such as eating high-fiber foods, regular exercises, soaking in sitz baths, applying ice packs to relieve swelling and keeping the anal area clean daily.