Help & Advice

What are Haemorrhoids?

Haemorrhoids are swollen veins located around the anus or in the lower rectum. These are also known as piles. It is estimated that roughly 50 percent of adults have experienced the symptoms of haemorrhoids by the age of 50.

Haemorrhoids can either be internal or external. Internal haemorrhoids develop within the anus or rectum. External haemorrhoids develop outside of the anus. External haemorrhoids are the most common and often the most troublesome. They do not necessarily cause pain or other symptoms, but the symptoms can include:

  • Pain when sitting.
  • Extreme itching around the anus.
  • Irritation and pain around the anus.
  • Itchy or painful lump or swelling near your anus.
  • Faecal leakage.
  • Painful bowel movements.
  • Blood on your tissue after having a bowel movement.

Please see your doctor to establish whether you have piles and to establish whether they are caused by an underlying medical condition, such as inflammatory bowel disease, anal cancer, bowel cancer and an anal fissure (tear).

Haemorrhoids can be caused by:

  • Straining during a bowel movement.
  • Complications from chronic constipation – this may be caused by taking certain medications such as opiates or tricyclics, such as amitriptyline.
  • A family history of haemorrhoids.

If you see dark blood in your stools, please see your GP immediately.

What is used to treat haemorrhoids?

There are several things you can do to help yourself manage haemorrhoids. These strategies are the same as those for managing constipation.

Further to these strategies. You could try taking regular warm baths two or three times a day to relieve some of your symptoms. If you have trouble getting in and out the bath, you could try a sitting in a portable water basin filled with warm water. Some professionals do not think that there is sufficient evidence for this to say that it helps.

Taking mild pain killers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen may reduce the pain caused by haemorrhoids.

If you have not responded to other treatments or if the haemorrhoids are particularly severe, your GP may suggest surgery. This is something that your doctor will discuss with you.

What medication is used to treat haemorrhoids?

  • Over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol, may help to ease any pain you have.
  • Soothing creams, ointments and suppositories may ease any pain and itchiness. There are many different products from pharmacies. You can purchase Anusol ointment and Anusol suppositories.
  • Prescription only medication such as Anusol HC Ointment or Anusol HC Suppositories may also be prescribed to relieve your symptoms.

It can sometimes take a few weeks for your symptoms to improve with self-help measures and medicines. If after this time your symptoms don’t improve with self-help measures and medicines, see your GP. They may refer you to a specialist.