It’s an embarrassing subject, so you’d be forgiven for wanting to keep it to yourself.
Don’t worry, more than half of us will suffer from haemorrhoids at some point, and most people are too embarrassed to seek help.
In many cases, haemorrhoids don’t cause symptoms and some people don’t even realise they have them.
When symptoms do occur, they’re more obvious, such as bleeding when going to the toilet or a lump hanging outside the anus.
It can still be confusing, and worrying, so Nick West, consultant surgeon at The Private Clinic of Harley Street, has told us what we need to know about this delicate area…
What are piles and how do I know if I have them?
They’re an enlarged version of the vascular ‘cushions’ we have inside our back passage to help control bowel movements.
You can’t always tell you have piles by looking, because they are often hidden internally, but they often form as a round lump that’s dark blue or purple in colour because of the restricted blood flow.
‘If you have pain or bleeding, see your GP to rule out anything more sinister,’ says Mr West. ‘Don’t let embarrassment put you off.
“Whatever you have, we’ll have seen it before. The earlier you seek help, the easier piles are to treat.’
Haemorrhoids aren’t usually painful, unless their blood supply slows down or is interrupted.
- bleeding after passing a stool – the blood is usually bright red
- itchy bottom
- a lump hanging down outside of the anus, which may need to be pushed back in after passing a stool
- a mucus discharge after passing a stool
- soreness, redness and swelling around your anus