Piles, also known as haemorrhoids, are common in people ages between 45 and 65, and 75 per cent of people will have them at some point, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
They can sometimes be painful or itchy, and can in some cases bleed during bowel movements.
But piles often clear up by themselves after a few days, and there are some simple lifestyle changes you can make to reduce itchiness and discomfort and help them clear up quickly.
There is cream and medication available, however making some simple dietary and lifestyle changes is the best form of treatment.
Boots Web MD recommends the following:
- Gradually increase the fibre in your diet to prevent constipation, until you are getting about 40g fibre daily. Choose wholemeal or wholewheat breads, cereals and past and brown rice rather than their processed white alternatives, and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables – at least your five a day – along with beans and other pulses, nuts, seeds and oats.
- Take fibre supplements if necessary, such as ispaghula, methylcellulose, bran or sterculia.
- Drink at least two litres – about eight to ten glasses – of water daily to help avoid constipation. Reduce or avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea and cola, which can contribute to fluid loss.
- Avoid sitting for long periods if you can (including on the toilet), and take breaks for at least five minutes once an hour.
You’re also more likely to develop piles if you’re overweight, pregnant, have a family history of haemorrhoids, regularly lifting heavy objects, or sit down for long periods of time.
The NHS lists the signs of piles, in case you are unsure:
- 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
When should you see your GP about piles?