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Health > Haemorrhoids


Haemorrhoids Fact Sheet

Haemorrhoids resemble varicose veins located on the rectum.

What to look for

  • bright red anal bleeding
  • tenderness or pain during bowel movements.
  • painful swelling or a lump near the anus.
  • anal itching.
  • a mucous anal discharge.

Haemorrhoids are varicose veins of the rectum however, because they are situated in such a sensitive position, they are painful. The veins in this area swell causing irritation when bowel movements pass by them. When these swollen veins bleed, itch, or hurt, they are known as haemorrhoids, or piles. There are two types - internal and external haemorrhoids.
People with internal haemorrhoids usually cannot feel too much pain as the sensitive veins are situated higher up inside the anal canal away from the nerve endings. They will however, bleed occasionally when the person passes a movement. People with this complaint have usually had the problem on and off for years and are quite used to the symptom of bleeding.
If the haemorrhoids prolapse, or enlarge and protrude outside the anal sphincter they will become visible as a lump of skin. There will also be pain associated with prolapsed haemorrhoids. They usually withdraw into the rectum on their own; if they don't, they can be gently pushed back into place.
External haemorrhoids lie inside the anus and are usually painful. If an external haemorrhoid prolapses to the outside (usually when passing a stool) you can see and feel it. If blood clots form within prolapsed external haemorrhoids, an extremely painful condition called a thrombosis is the result. If an external haemorrhoid becomes thrombosis, it may turn purple or blue, and possibly bleed. Even though they look frightening, thrombosis haemorrhoids are usually not serious and will resolve themselves in about a week.
If you suffer from anal bleeding or pain of any sort it can be quite frightening and should be examined by a doctor. Haemorrhoids are a very common cause of anal bleeding and are rarely dangerous but a definite diagnosis from your Doctor is mandatory.


It is not certain exactly what causes haemorrhoids. But experts believe that if the veins are weaker it may be due to genetic factors.
If you do have weaker veins in this area, pressure or straining will cause them to swell and become prone to pain. Sources of this pressure include obesity, pregnancy, standing or sitting for long periods, liver disease, straining from constipation or diarrhoea, coughing, sneezing, vomiting.
What you eat is important in controlling this condition. People who consistently eat a high-fibre diet are unlikely to get haemorrhoids, whereas those who prefer a diet high in refined foods may suffer from them. A low-fibre diet or inadequate fluid intake causes constipation, which creates haemorrhoids by straining when having a bowel movement and also producing hard stools which can irritate the swollen veins even further.

Traditional Treatment

Your doctor may examine the area to diagnose this complaint. If you do have haemorrhoids, unfortunately they do not usually go away completely without some kind of treatment. They do ‘right’ themselves so that living with them is bearable.
Diet is considered the basis from which to start any type of treatment for this condition. You may find immediate relief if you change your diet to include predominantly high-fibre foods and avoid refined, junk type foods.
In addition to dietary changes, if your haemorrhoids flare up, you can sit in a warm salt bath to soothe the area and reduce the swelling.
There are other treatments if the simple procedures above do not relieve your pain. Injections, banding , cauterisation and surgery are available. You may wish to discuss these other options with your doctor.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

The following treatments are available to treat the discomfort of haemorrhoids. If symptoms persist, contact your doctor.
Herbal Therapies - Applied twice daily, pilewort (Ranunculus ficaria) ointment can reduce the pain of external haemorrhoids. Also try psyllium husks to decreas itchiness and bleeding.
Homoeopathy - More than a dozen remedies can help haemorrhoid pain. Choosing the right one requires Professional help.
Massage - Speak to a fully qualified massage practitioner who may use techniques to help with constipation and relief of your problem.
Aromatherapy - This blend will help reduce the pain and pressure - 3 drops of cypress, 2 drops of sandalwood essential oils in 5 teaspoons of calendula base carrier oil. Apply the mixture to the affected area twice a day.

Dietary Considerations

Staying on a high-fibre diet may help haemorrhoids almost immediately. Eat as few refined foods as possible. Drink plenty of filtered water each day as well. Also reduce your salt intake. Researchers that certain supplements may also help such as - B complex, C, E, Mineral complex, Calcium, fluoride, lecithin, pollen, Rutin and Bioflavonoids.

Personal Care

  • Try not to sit for hours at a time - be sure to take breaks.
  • Insert petroleum jelly just inside the anus to make bowel movements less painful.
  • The application of witch hazel, on irritated haemorrhoids to reduce pain and itching.
  • Do not scratch haemorrhoids
  • See your doctor about which pain killers you are able to have with this condition
  • Bathe regularly to keep the anal area clean
  • Keep breathing while performing tasks which require exertion.
  • Learn to lift properly - breath constantly and lift with your legs, not your back and stomach
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Get plenty exercise


A high fibre diet and plenty of the essentials such as filtered water, exercise, fruit and vegetables will do the trick.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you bleed from the anus for the first time
  • if the bleeding is persistent and becomes more severe
  • if your normal bowel movement changes for more than 2 weeks.
  • if there is persistent pain in the anal region
  • if the blood from this area is dark.

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