If you suffer from piles or haemorrhoids, you may find relief by simply increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables. Eating fibre-rich foods and drinking plenty of water and other fluids may also prevent you from developing this condition, which is very common in Singapore.
“You should also change your toilet practices by avoiding straining or sitting on the toilet bowl for a prolonged period,” says Dr Foo Fung Joon, Consultant, Department of Colorectal Surgery, Singapore General Hospital.
Haemorrhoids is the name of the ‘vascular cushions’ located inside the anal canal that help with bowel movements, as well as the medical condition associated with them. When these cushions or blood vessel-containing tissue structures become inflamed and bulge abnormally, you are said to have the condition called haemorrhoids. There are two types of haemorrhoids – external and internal, depending on their location.
You can develop haemorrhoids when there is an increase in intra-abdominal pressure. This pressure can be caused by excessive straining during bowel movements due to constipation or severe diarrhoea, and during pregnancy and the delivery process. However, pregnancy-related haemorrhoids often shrink after the birth of the baby.
What are the symptoms of haemorrhoids?
- Blood in stools, usually bright red in colour
- Anal itching
- A lump hanging out when defecating
- Soreness, redness around the anus
“Although bleeding is indeed one of the symptoms of piles, one must still consult a doctor, as the passing of blood could also be due to other causes such as colorectal cancer,” warns Dr Foo.
What are the treatment options for haemorrhoids?
Mild cases of haemorrhoids can be treated with topical creams and ointments and with the use of suppositories. Fibre supplements and laxatives can also help with regulating your bowel movements.
Medication is prescribed if there is bleeding during defecation. “Medical treatments include tablets with venotonic agents that can help reduce bleeding,” says Dr Foo.
In severe cases, surgery, usually done as a day procedure, may be required. Surgical options include:
Rubber band ligation – this is the simplest procedure and involves the use of rubber bands to shrink the haemorrhoids.
Conventional haemorrhoidectomy and stapled haemorrhoidectomy – both these procedures remove excessive tissue.
Transanal haemorrhoidal dearterialisation – this employs a special machine to detect the blood vessels supplying blood to the haemorrhoids. The surgeon then ties these up with a stitch.
Along with surgical treatment, it’s important to adopt good toilet practices to maintain regular bowel movements and have a healthy, fibre-rich daily diet.
Other articles from this author:
- Breastfeeding: How to ensure your breast milk supply is adequate
- Laugh your way to better health
- Going sour on sweet stuff: Why is sugar bad for you?