The term piles refer to the medical condition wherein the veins located in and around the anus swells up and become larger. They can be described as clumps or masses of tissue within the anal canal and they are what we call the varicose occurring in the area of the anal canal and the anus. They are technically called hemorrhoids. Piles are caused by the pressure of forcing to move stool. This pressure can cause enlargement of the veins that forms these clumps and masses in or around the anus. Other factors such as pregnancy, diarrhea or chronic constipation, aging, and anal intercourse can cause them to develop.
Although it doesn't usually happen, piles can cause pain and bleeding especially when they become ruptured due to irritation or to the force of moving stool. If blood can be observed in the stool, the color of the blood must be taken into account since blood in the stool doesn't always mean that a person has piles. Since piles occur at the end of the gastrointestinal tract, then the blood cause by them are usually bright red. A darker color of blood in the stool usually means a more serious condition.
Piles can develop inside the anal canal or outside around the anus. The ones that develop inside the anal canal are called internal while the ones outside are called external. Although internal piles develop from the inside of the anal canal, they can become larger that they can protrude outside the rectum. We call this case as prolapsed piles. Prolapsed piles can be pushed back gently with a finger so that it will come back inside but it usually gets outside after a bowel movement.
The degree of the severity of piles can be graded as follows:
First degree ñ These are piles that have formed and have swollen inside the lining of the anal canal. They can't be seen from outside the anus since they are found on the inside part. These may bleed when irritated and squeezed by the force of moving the bowel.
Second degree ñ These are prolapsed piles. These are larger than the first degree and they may return afterwards after having a bowel movement.
Third degree ñ These are also prolapsed piles. The difference between these and the second degree is that the former hangs outside the anus and only returns inside when pushed back in.
Fourth degree ñ These are prolapsed piles that can't be pushed back inside. They permanently hang down from the outside of the anus. These can be painful when it becomes more swollen.
External piles ñ These are piles which are usually more painful than the other ones. These are swellings that occur from below the anal cushions.
About 4% of the general population can have problems related to piles. It usually occurs to people of ages 45 to 65 but it can also happen to younger ones. They can occur equally between men and women.
There are many ways of treating piles. They are not hard to treat so if you feel that you must, please do not hesitate to call for medical help.