Medical information for patients

Haemorrhoids (Piles)

Haemorrhoids (often known as piles) are enlarged and engorged blood vessels in or around the back passage (anus). These may be associated with pain, bleeding, itching and feeling as if a lump or bump is hanging down.



Haemorrhoids are very common. They are said to be more common in countries where the diet has traditionally been more processed and low in fibre. The main contributory causes are those things that cause us to raise the pressure in the abdomen. This causes the blood vessels to swell and become engorged.

It seems that the people most at risk of developing haemorrhoids are those who have more causes for raised abdominal pressure, such as:


Most episodes of trouble from haemorrhoids come and go quite quickly. If simple measures do not help or the problem is lasting, keeps returning or worsening, then you should see your doctor, especially if you have any other associated symptoms such as weight loss; change of bowel habit; slime (mucus) in the motions; or darker, changed blood mixed in with the stools.

Your doctor will ask a few questions and is likely to examine you and may want to feel inside the anus with a gloved finger. Sometimes he will look inside with an instrument (proctoscope). This enables him or her to confirm the diagnosis, and to rule out other, more serious problems such as cancer.


It is usually best, with haemorrhoids, to get by with the least treatment possible, as even after the most extensive treatments they may still return.

If you do not get better with these approaches, your doctor may ask a specialist to see you who may:


Haemorrhoids are very common, and will occur anyway, but, as implied above, useful aspects of prevention are:

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