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Haemorrhoids are clumps of tissue that are located in the anal canal, a part of the large intestine situated between the anus and the rectum. Haemorrhoids contain blood vessels and their function is to help with excretion of stool and control bowel movements. However, when they become swollen of inflamed, they become piles or pathological haemorrhoids. This condition of having piles is called the haemorrhoidal disease and it is a fairly common medical condition, with almost half of the US population experiencing it at least one time in their lives. If the veins that swell are inside the anal canal, the condition is called internal haemorrhoids. If the veins are near the opening of the anus, the condition is called external haemorrhoids.
Piles or pathological haemorrhoids usually occur when the veins in the tissue of the anus experiences strain. If someone sits for far too long on the toilet or has diarrhoea and chronic constipation, these tissues receive the brunt of the pressure. In turn, they will stretch and become swollen. Pregnancy can also cause haemorrhoids because it puts additional pressure on the blood vessels in the pelvic area. Furthermore, the risk of acquiring piles increases with age. Another factor that can determine whether one will get piles is genetics, because “weak veins” may be inherited.
There are a number of symptoms common to both internal and external haemorrhoids, such as bleeding during bowel movements and pain in the rectal area. To treat pathological haemorrhoids, one usually has to alter their lifestyle, beginning with a change in diet to include more fibre-rich foods. One should also drink plenty of fluids and exercise regularly, so as to lose weight. Besides this, one can buy over-the-counter ointments like Anusol, Proctosedyl, and Weleda to soothe the swelling, itching, and pain.