If you think you might have piles, you’re not alone. More than 8 million people in Britain suffer from discomfort and other symptoms caused by piles. It’s very common, but how can you tell if you have them? Find out more about piles in this easy to read guide.
What are Piles?
Piles are swollen blood vessels in the area just above your bottom. They can cause symptoms ranging from itchiness to pain or even bleeding - in fact bleeding is the most common way people find out they have piles. If piles stick out from your bottom you will be more likely to notice them and have symptoms which bother you.
What causes piles and who gets them?
The first question people usually ask is: How are piles actually caused? There are many theories but few have ever been proven. However certain situations do increase the pressure in the haemorrhoidal veins in the anus and increase the chance of piles developing:
straining at the toilet
pregnancy and labour
The best evidence to tell us who actually gets piles was a recent study when 976 adults were examined by experts during a bowl cancer screening programme to find out how common it was to have piles. The study found that 39% had piles, and almost half of those (17% overall) have symptoms from them. In other words almost 1 in 5 adults have symptoms from piles. That means there are probably 8 million of us in the UK alone!
Interestingly, the only association with piles proven in this study was being overweight – so the heavier you are for your height, the more likely you probably are to have piles. For the more scientifically minded amongst you, this relationship was highly significant (p=0.028).
Do I have Piles?
So how do you know if you actually have piles? The most common way to find you have piles is finding fresh blood on the toilet paper, but piles can also cause pain, itchiness or a lump that you can feel sticking out from your bottom. However it's impossible to confidently diagnose piles yourself. In fact many doctors find it difficult too. In one study in 2010, 198 doctors were asked to diagnose piles and the non-specialist doctors got the diagnosis wrong in more than half the cases they were asked to examine!
That’s why eXroid recommends that you should see a doctor with expertise in the condition if you suspect you may have piles, especially if you have noticed any bleeding. A proper examination is important to rule out anything sinister like bowel cancer. To organise an appointment with an eXroid specialist doctor, please contact us. If you have been diagnosed with piles, the next thing you'll want to do is think about treatment.