Painful piles and what to do about them

There is nothing nastier than waking up one morning to find you have piles. Extremely uncomfortable, and rather embarrassing. Not something you tend to share with the friend who is complaining about their sore throat.


What are piles and what causes them?

Haemorrhoids are swollen, irritated veins that usually sit just inside your bottom. They are caused by a pressure overload - from dehydrated, hard stools attempting to pass, or even the weight from pregnancy. Does your job involve standing for large parts of the day? Or sitting for hours on end? Has your weight increased recently? You may well develop piles from the additional pressure.  

And you are not alone. Statistics show that 3 out of 4 of us will develop piles at one time or another. They rarely hurt if they are inside your rectum, and you usually only find out about them when they make their presence known with bouts of bleeding that emerges in your stool. The problems arise when these swollen veins stretch very thin and become painful, popping out so that you can see them. They are usually bright pink or red, and hard, and hurt when you move or if you touch them.

Usually piles will disappear on their own after a couple of weeks. Up your water intake for a start, and make sure you are eating enough fibre in your diet. Add extra fruit, vegetables and grains, and if you are still constipated and having problems, add psyllium husks, which will change the texture of your stool and make going to the bathroom a much easier experience!

Sometimes piles retreat back into your body of their own accord, and sometimes they can be gently pushed back with your finger. When they don't, you need to visit your doctor who will check if they are thrombosed, which means they have a small blood clot inside them, or if they are beginning to pull the lining of the rectum out with them.

It's an embarrassing one, and apparently only 4% of the 75% of us who have them do decide to get over it and get them professionally checked out. But doctors have seen plenty of haemorrhoids in their time, and it's important to make sure it is piles you are suffering from and not something more serious. Your doctor is likely to prescribe you a cream, ointment or gel as a first step. A second option may be to inject and shrink it, or use a band to cut off circulation. If that doesn't work an operation usually will. Act promptly the first time you spot the problem and you will hopefully manage a less traumatic, simpler course of action.

Whilst you are experimenting with the medical options there are a couple of things you can do to ease the discomfort. Put a few drops of tea tree oil into some castor oil as a carrier and, with a ball of cotton wool, dab the mixture onto the painful area. It soothes it immediately, and over time can also shrink the protruding veins.

Sitting in warm water several times a day also relieves the pain. But if you don't fancy filling your bathtub that often, invest in a sitz bath, which you can fill with warm water and fits comfortably on top of your toilet.

My grandfather resorted to sitting at his desk on a rubber ring. I think he 'borrowed' my favourite seaside toy, and never returned it. 8-year-olds are like elephants, they never forget these things!


Natural remedies for piles

St Johns Wort

You won't find this one in the lists of recommendations on the internet, but it's a quick fire recovery remedy that should be first on your list of holistic health pile options. I was first told about it by a Serbian friend whose mother had discovered it years before. Her whole family and all their friends have used it for piles for the past 40 years with apparently 100% success.

St Johns Wort is usually used for depression, anxiety and sleep problems, but can also be used in suppository form for vaginal yeast infections. Grab a packet from the local pharmacist and use it rectally instead. Within 10 days your haemorrhoids should be a distant memory.


I would love to know if it works as well for you, so please drop me a line and I will get the news out there. How much nicer to deal with the problem with a flower remedy than an operation!





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Written by health advocate Sara Davenport, founder of one of the UK's leading breast cancer charities, Breast Cancer Haven. With over twenty years' experience in holistic health, Sara's digital dose of wellness teaches you to listen to your body, tweak your lifestyle and improve your health. 

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