What Are Piles?

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If you are suffering from piles you will be well aware that they can be extremely painful and often embarrassing. They may well be having a serious effect on your daily life and probably also cause you a great deal of embarrassment.

The embarrassment factor isn’t helped by the fact that sufferers are often the butt of jokes and humour. While they may well seem funny when someone else has them, they really are no joke for the person who has them. They are in fact a serious condition that needs to be dealt with fairly urgently.

What are piles? Piles are more correctly known as haemorrhoids in the UK or hemorrhoids in the US. To save confusion, over which spelling to use as I have no idea where you are from, I’m just going to call them by their commonly known name, piles.

Piles are a condition where the veins in the anus or around the lower rectum become inflamed and swollen. These veins can be affected both internally and externally. 

To put it simply, inside the anus we have three cushions which are known as hemorrhoidal cushions. These are a normal part of our anatomy and they help to ease the passage of fecal matter through the passage. Problems occur when these cushions become inflamed or enlarged forming the condition that is known as piles.

The amount of discomfort caused by piles, ranges from zero (internal piles can be painless) to agonising and anywhere in-between. More often than not, they do cause a considerable degree of discomfort, as you may well know!

What causes piles?

There are many possible causes of piles;  

Lack of fibre in the diet
Lack of fluid in the diet
Straining when passing a stool
Anal sex

How are piles caused?

It is thought that when force is needed to pass a stool, particularly a hard stool, through the anal canal, the pressure on the hemorrhoidal cushions forces them down resulting in them becoming enlarged.

Anal sex is thought to cause piles through the irritation that is caused to the rectum during intercourse.

Tumours in the pelvis also can cause an enlargement of hemorrhoids by pressing on veins draining upwards from the anal canal.

As we age, or develop other aggravation conditions, the supporting tissue that is responsible for anchoring the hemorrhoids to the underlying muscle of the anal canal, deteriorates. Therefore, with time, the hemorrhoidal tissue loses its hold and slides down into the anal canal causing piles.

Anal sex also causes aggravation to the walls of the rectum which can cause the hemorroidal cushions to become inflamed.

Certain sports such as weight lifting or any sport that causes pressure in that area can also be a cause.

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