Commonly known as piles, haemorrhoids are swollen blood vessels in the anus. Haemorrhoids can affect every patient differently, depending on their level of severity.
1. What are the different types of haemorrhoids?
They can be classified into four distinct degrees of severity.
- First degree haemorrhoids occur within the anal canal without any external visible lump.
- Second degree haemorrhoids get bigger and bulge out during bowel movement. However, the bulge eases once there is no more exertion.
- Third degree haemorrhoids prolapse during bowel movement and stay out of the anal canal for a longer time before gradually getting back in. In this stage, the patient may manipulate the haemorrhoids back to their original position after bowel movement.
- Fourth degree haemorrhoids are at the most advanced stage where they have completely prolapsed out of the rectum, and cannot be pushed back in.
2. Is surgery required for third and fourth degree haemorrhoids?
This would depend on the prevailing symptoms. There is no risk of haemorrhoids turning cancerous, so treatment for piles is only required if they bother you. Often, symptoms of pain or bleeding from third- or fourth-degree piles can be treated using medication. However, this eases the symptoms, but does not ‘cure’ the haemorrhoids. As long as there is no cause for worry, the haemorrhoids can be left alone.
3. What are the symptoms?
- Bleeding during bowel movements
- Lump at the anus coming out during bowel movements
- Persistent lump(s) at the anus
- Itching in the anal area
4. Can haemorrhoids turn cancerous if left untreated for long?
Piles never turn cancerous. They are swollen blood vessels in the anus. Colon or rectal cancer develop from the inner lining (mucosa) of the colon or rectum.
5. How are haemorrhoids treated?
In the absence of symptoms such as bleeding, lumps, itching and pain, haemorrhoids do not require any treatment. However, for first or second-degree piles, symptoms can be relieved by exerting less during bowel movement. This could mean consuming more fluids or laxatives to prevent constipation. Oral medication or rectal suppositories may be prescribed by the doctor to relieve the symptoms. If these methods do not help, surgical procedures may be required.