Commonly referred to as piles, haemorrhoids are soft lumps of flesh inside your rectum. They tend not to cause any pain or discomfort, but can sometimes feel itchy or bleed when you pass a stool. If they become enlarged, they pass through the rectum and you may feel a lump – this is known as a prolapsed haemorrhoid.
Haemorrhoids can be hereditary or can appear gradually over time, and are often connected with pregnancy or constipation.
A number of basic measures can be taken to treat haemorrhoids, such as increasing the amount of fibre in your diet and drinking more water. However, if these do not resolve the problem, then our specialist consultants may suggest the following treatments:
Usually a day procedure that doesn’t require an anaesthetic. It involves placing a very tight elastic band around the base of your haemorrhoids to cut off their blood supply. Within a week, the haemorrhoids should then fall off and pass out of your body when you go to the toilet.
Most people can resume normal activities the next day, although you may feel some pain or discomfort for a day or so afterwards. Normal painkillers will usually be able to reduce this.
May be used as an alternative to banding, which involves injecting a chemical solution into the blood vessels in your rectum. This numbs the nerve endings at the site of the injection and hardens the tissue of the haemorrhoid to form a scar. After about four to six weeks, the haemorrhoid should decrease in size or shrivel up.
After treatment, you should avoid strenuous exercise for the rest of the day, although you should be able to return to work and your normal activities the following day. You may experience some minor pain and a small amount of bleeding for a short while.
Surgery takes place under general anaesthetic and usually takes around 20 minutes. Your surgeon will cut away the haemorrhoids or remove them with a staple gun.
In most cases, you’ll be able to go back home on the day of the procedure and can return to work the next day. If your treatment was carried out using a staple technique then this does not leave an open wound and you should expect to recover quickly. If you do have an open wound then it may be several weeks before this heals completely.
Drink lots of fluids to avoid constipation and ensure that your diet contains plenty of fibre. Regular exercise can also help with recovery but do check with your consultant before you start. While you should find that symptoms disappear completely, do be aware that haemorrhoids can reappear.