How Do You Know if You Have Piles? Find Out About Signs, Symptoms, Treatments and More
Posted on 06 October 2018 by Maryanne Johnson
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Are you wondering if you have piles? In this post we will discuss piles in detail so you can find out if you have them. We will talk about piles signs, symptoms, treatments, recommendations, and more. The anorectal condition commonly referred to as piles, or formally as hemorrhoids, is a difficult one to grasp.
To begin, technically, everyone has piles, which makes this condition all the more confusing to understand. If everyone has piles, then why do we not notice this condition all the time?
The term "piles" is indicative of the collection of the network of rectal veins, surrounding arteries, and supportive tissues, but it is when piles become swollen and inflamed that they become symptomatic.
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Piles or hemorrhoids symptoms are the worst!
Inflamed rectal veins are why so many people say they are experiencing piles or hemorrhoids.
Sometimes, you won’t know you have piles, and in this case, the piles are located internally. Rectal veins are woven throughout the lowest part of the rectum, and based on the area of inflammation piles are divided amongst two separate classifications.
Haemorrhoids present themselves in most people as three columns within the anal canal. For a typical healthy individual, the columns are often described as “anal cushions.”
Whether you have internal or external piles is reliant on whether the swelling occurs above the dentate line, a term naming the division between the upper two thirds and lower third of the anal canal.
Hemorrhoids above the dentate line are considered to be internal piles, and for the swollen anal cushions that fall below, they are named external piles.
The symptoms for internal and external piles differ because of their distinct locations above or below the dentate line, and this can be attributed to the amount of pain-feeling nerves.
How to Determine if You Have External Piles
External piles refer to the collection of veins running beneath the skin close to the anus.
Out of the two definitive groups, external piles are by far the more painful, and as discussed previously, this is due to the number of nerves that transmit pain located below the dentate line.
Symptoms of external piles are:
- Visible anal masses and are tender when touched
- Thrombosed hemorrhoids
- Severe itching
- Intense pain and discomfort
- Difficulty going to the toilet
- Lingering aching or burning
External piles take shape as bulky, reddened masses, and the severity of the inflammation of the venous pathways determines how engorged the tender lumps become.
As one can imagine, these anal masses make trips to the toilet excruciatingly painful at times, along with sitting and standing or remaining in certain positions for long periods of time.
If you begin noticing one to a few lumps that have formed on your skin surrounding the anus, it is likely external haemorrhoids.
If the lumps have turned blue or even purplish, then this could be an indication that a blood clot has formed.
While this all can sound concerning, blood clots typically resolve themselves in a matter of days. Sometimes they will need to be lanced and drained, something which your GP can do in-office.
You may recognize some of the other classical symptoms of external piles, which are almost always extreme itching, dull burning sensations near the rectum, throbbing, and general discomfort.
For some people, there may be faecal or mucous discharge from the anus, and these lingering particles worsen anal itch.
It may become more difficult to use the toilet or to clean the anorectal region following a bowel movement.
The sensitive, tender bumps that are described as external piles make the anal area much more delicate and more challenging to keep clean.
Actually passing stools with external hemorrhoids can send sharp pain, especially if the hemorrhoids are thrombosed.
There are plenty of medicines that can be applied to the sore surface of external piles. Medications in the form of creams and ointments have anti-pain ingredients that can provide temporary hemorrhoid relief.
Hemorrhoid Wipes with skin-calming ingredients can also be a helpful tool in both relieving irritation and adequately cleaning the anal area.
If you find that you have been straining and constipated lately, then you may need to make a small change in your diet to address your bowel habits to better prevent external haemorrhoids from forming.
Your GP will tell you that if piles are an issue, then fibre is your best friend. Fibre helps move stools along the passages of the bowels, adding heft and water for you to pass them more easily.
How Do You Know When You Have Internal Piles?
Internal piles indicate that the inflammation is central to the rectal cavity. It is this type of haemorrhoid that lacks true symptoms unless there is a sign of a prolapse, in which case the hemorrhoidal column protrudes beyond the rectal opening.
There is an absence of nerves that can sense pain, a contrast that is remarkably different from those of external piles.
So, how do you know if you have internal piles if there are no sure signs or symptoms?
Sometimes, internal piles will have one painless symptom of bright red rectal bleeding, and as upsetting as this is, the bleeding often goes unnoticed until seen covering the stools after a bowel movement, on the toilet paper, or in the bowl of the toilet. Hemorrhoid bleeding can be scary.
Common symptoms of internal piles are:
- Bright red blood coating the stools
- Prolapse through the rectum
- Mucous discharge following a bowel movement
- Increased anal itchiness
However, for anyone with the symptom of rectal bleeding, a call or a trip to see and talk to your GP is strongly recommended.
Rectal bleeding is typically from internal piles because of how common piles are in adults around the age of fifty, but rectal bleeding could be a sign of something else going on and should be checked out regardless.
If you notice a protrusion through your rectum, then this could be a sign of prolapse, which is a complication of an internal haemorrhoid.
Internal hemorrhoids are categorized into degrees based on how far and dramatic the protrusion of the hemorrhoidal column is.
Mild cases, rated as first-degree piles, usually have no signs of prolapse whatsoever, whereas second-degree piles through fourth-degree cases, the column can be seen and felt through the rectum.
If you should so happen to notice this type of protrusion, tell your GP right away, because as the degrees progress, the haemorrhoidal columns can no longer be guided back through the rectum manually.
Fourth-degree prolapsed hemorrhoids are quite obvious and life hindering. For such a prolapsed state, hemorrhoid surgery is almost always required. Any mucous-coated mass protruding through the rectum should be reported to your GP.
Your Hemorrhoid Physician Knows Best
To be completely and one hundred percent sure that the rectal discomfort you are experiencing is from the common anorectal disorder of piles, you should consider making an appointment with your GP.
Your primary care physician will have you describe the symptoms you are experiencing in detail, and if it is still unclear, additional examinations can be conducted.
Piles are a widely experienced rectal condition, and depending on other factors and criteria you may meet as a patient, your GP will be able to determine if what you have is piles.
If you are of a certain age, your GP may request a colonoscopy to ensure that the symptoms are not indicative of a more serious gastrointestinal disorder.
A colonoscopy is required for patients at the age of fifty, the same time in which piles become more prevalent.
Physicians often want to be sure that these symptoms are not conflated with colon cancer by conducting a colonoscopy.
For many cases, a visual examination suffices to determine if the symptoms described are in fact, hemorrhoids.
Your GP will examine the rectal area to check for physical indications of piles.
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In combination with the symptoms the patient is experiencing, doctors can easily piece together the actual cause, especially with the aid of a visual exam.
A digital examination can be performed to determine if you have internal piles. Your GP will take his or her gloved finger and insert it gently into the rectum to feel for signs of a swollen and inflamed hemorrhoidal column.
Your GP doctor may want to:
- Conduct a visual or digital exam
- Order a colonoscopy
- Advise you to change your diet
- Recommend a fibre supplement
- Advise you to exercise and hydrate well
- Recommend a hemorrhoid supplement