Wave goodbye to painful piles with our effective treatment and prevention tips.
By Mr Amyn Haji
Plagued my piles but too embarrassed to seek help? The embarrassing nature of haemorrhoids (also known as piles) means that they are rarely openly discussed, but they are actually very common, and more than 80 per cent of us will develop haemorrhoids at some point in our lives.
With this in mind, Mr Amyn Haji – consultant colorectal surgeon at The Whiteley Clinic – shares his advice on easy ways to treat and prevent piles:
What are haemorrhoids?
Haemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in and around the lower part of the anus and rectum. When the veins which carry these blood vessels are stretched, they can become very irritated and cause swelling, mucus, itching, bleeding and discomfort.
1. Drink lots of water
One of the simplest ways to prevent piles is to stay hydrated. Drinking lots of water can help to prevent constipation, and therefore decreases the amount of straining and pressure on the anal blood vessels when you go to the toilet.
💡 I always recommend that my patients drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day to maintain healthy bowel movements.
2. Keep fit
Regular exercise is important because it helps to stimulate the bowels and prevent constipation. People with a sedentary job or lifestyle should try to be as active as possible by getting up and walking around every half an hour, or by introducing regular activities into their weekly routine, such as yoga or swimming.
When you are sitting down, you are putting more pressure on the veins in your lower rectum, so being active will help to relieve this pressure and prevent haemorrhoids from flaring.
However, patients should bear in mind that not all types of exercise are beneficial. Engaging in strenuous exercises and activities that increase abdominal pressure or straining, such as weight lifting, can lead to the formation of haemorrhoids.
3. Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight is a common cause of haemorrhoids, because of the extra pressure that it puts on the rectal muscles. So, for those who are carrying a few extra pounds, improving your diet and level of physical activity to reach a healthy weight range is one of the best ways to way to prevent the condition from occurring.
4. Eat more fibre
A high fibre diet has been known to help prevent and treat haemorrhoids. By adding a variety of fruit, nuts, wholegrains, pulses, and vegetables into your shopping trolley, you will keep your digestive system functioning well, which in turn will help to keep your stools healthy and well formed. This will reduce the risk of haemorrhoids developing, as you are less likely to strain whilst on the toilet.
5. Avoid fast food and alcohol
Unsurprisingly, fatty, processed foods can be a hazard if you are prone to haemorrhoids. These foods contain very little nutrients and fibre, so if eaten regularly, they can lead to poor digestion and constipation.
Alcoholic beverages should also be avoided. Not only do alcoholic drinks upset the digestive balance in your intestines, but they are also dehydrating, which leads to constipation and straining during bowel movements. To avoid any problems, try to limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
6. Leave them be
Haemorrhoids can vary in severity, however, in some cases they will disappear on their own within a few days, provided you take care and follow a few simple steps to aid recovery. To prevent your condition from worsening, drink plenty of fluids and purchase some over the counter medicines – there’s a variety of creams, lotions, and gels available.
Haemorrhoid treatment tips
To ease any discomfort, try adding some of the following measures to your daily routine:
✔️ Avoid straining when you’re on the toilet.
✔️ Use moist toilet paper or baby wipes, instead of dry paper.
✔️ Dab the area clean, rather than wiping it.
Further haemorrhoid treatments
Although many haemorrhoids will disappear on their own, in some cases further treatment may be required.
Traditional treatment options for haemorrhoid sufferers aren’t very appealing. One of the most common procedures is called a ‘haemorrhoidectomy‘, which is carried out under general anaesthetic and involves a surgeon cutting out the haemorrhoid and removing any excess tissue. This treatment is very painful and can cause discomfort for the patient after the procedure – usually taking around a week or so to recover.
However, we also offer our patients a treatment for haemorrhoids, called ‘The Rafaelo Procedure‘. This procedure can achieve the exact same outcome as a haemorrhoidectomy but is considerably quicker and less painful. Symptoms should improve almost immediately and the condition has a much lower chance of recurrence.
💡 If you have recurrent piles and over the counter treatment doesn’t help, ask your GP for advice.