Piles, also known as hemorrhoids, are groups of inflamed and swollen veins and tissues in your anus and lower rectum. You can suffer from different types of hemorrhoids/piles such as internal hemorrhoids, external hemorrhoids, prolapsed hemorrhoids, and thrombosed hemorrhoids.
If you put pressure or strain on your rectum or anus, it can lead to dilating the blood vessels and cause piles. Some of the causes for piles are constipation, lifting heavy weights, sitting for a long time, obesity [overweight], being pregnant, lack of enough fiber in the diet, and straining while having a bowel movement, etc. Piles can cause symptoms such as rectal pain, itching around the anus, bleeding with poop, lumps around the anus, difficulty in bowel movements, and constipation, etc.
Complications of Piles:
In most cases, lifestyle modifications with medications have helped in reducing the severity of symptoms and to treat piles. If left untreated, piles can protrude out of the anus causing irritation, bleeding, severe pain, and discomfort during a bowel movement, etc. In rare cases, untreated piles can cause severe complications such as:
- Bacterial infection:
Piles/hemorrhoids can be treated with medications, but in a few cases, untreated piles can start bleeding and can get infected by bacteria. This bacterial infection can cause tissue death, higher fever, and abscesses [collection of pus], severe pain, swelling and redness of the area where piles develop, etc.
- Formation of blood clots:
Blood clots can occur in both internal and external hemorrhoids. Due to this, hemorrhoids become very tender and produce pain while walking, sitting, or passage of stool.
Hemorrhoids that protrude outward from the anus known as prolapsed hemorrhoids. It can form one or more lumps around the anus. Prolapsed hemorrhoids can cause severe pain during bowel movements and while sitting.
- Blockage of blood vessels [Strangulation]:
Blood vessels or arteries that feed fresh blood to hemorrhoids can become blocked and cut off. This is called strangulation that can cause severe, intense, and unbearable pain.
- Blood loss [Anemia]:
In severe cases, hemorrhoids rupture and cause loss of blood. This leads to deprivation of oxygen levels in red blood cells that carry around the body and causes headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
How to Deal with the Complications of Piles?
In cases of severe piles, surgery is the best and effective treatment plan. However, in the early stages of piles, you can reduce its symptoms and complications by changing your lifestyle and diet. Below are a few methods that help you to deal with the complications of piles/hemorrhoids.
- Consume fiber-rich food items:
Piles can occur due to straining during bowel movements and excessive straining can be a result of constipation. So, adding more variety of food items that contain high fiber can help in keeping the stools regular and soft. They also improve overall symptoms and bleeding from hemorrhoids. A healthy diet should contain 20-30 grams of fiber a day.
Few of those food items that are rich in high fiber are brown rice, oats, legumes, barley, and quinoa, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, pumpkin, cucumber, and watermelon, apple, banana, bell peppers, pear, raspberries, sweet potato, beetroot, and carrot, etc.
- Drink plenty of water:
Your doctor may advise you to drink at least 2 liters of water daily. This helps in keeping the stool soft and prevents constipation. By drinking plenty of water, your risk of piles can also be reduced.
- Don’t hold back:
When you feel the urge to use the toilet, don’t hold back. Because delaying or waiting can put more pressure or strain on your rectal veins and worsens constipation. This can also aggravate the piles and lead to serious health problems.
- Do regular exercise:
Stay active and lead a physically active life. Do simple exercises regularly for about 30-40 minutes. By doing so, you can ease constipation and can reduce the pressure on rectal veins. Regular exercises can also help in reducing the weight which plays a major contributor in piles.
- Don’t eat these food items [foods to avoid]:
Limit the intake of dairy products like milk, cheese, icecreams, milk powder, butter, yogurt, and sour creams, etc. Do not eat fried, salty, and spicy foods as they can make piles more sensitive and cause severe pain.
Adding to these, avoid red and processed meat as they are low in fiber and can aggravate the piles. Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages and alcohol, because these can harden your stool and may increase pain and discomfort.
If you suffer from severe pain due to piles, sit in warm water, or use an ice pack, or use hemorrhoids cream for faster relief.
Piles/hemorrhoids can cause severe and major complications if left untreated. In mild to moderate cases, piles can be treated by changing lifestyle and diet. Even if lifestyle modifications don’t cause any impact, then the doctor may recommend a few surgical interventions like hemorrhoidectomy, hemorrhoid stapling, banding & coagulation, and sclerotherapy, etc.
Consume high fiber-rich food items to minimize the risk of piles complications and follow all the instructions suggested by your doctor.