50% of adults have symptoms of pile – Expert
A consultant pathologist, Prof. Femi Ogunbiyi, on Friday said that 50 per cent of adults had symptoms of haemorrhoids, by the age of 50.
Ogunbiyi, of the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan.
He described haemorrhoids, also known as pile, as swollen veins located around the anus or in the lower rectum, adding that it occurred more in males than in females.
The consultant pathologist said haemorrhoids could either be internal or external, adding that internal haemorrhoids developed within the anus or rectum.
According to him, external haemorrhoids developed outside the anus.
“Of the two forms, external haemorrhoids are the most common and the most troublesome; they cause pains, severe itching and difficulty in sitting, but the good news is that they are treatable.
“The symptoms of haemorrhoids include extreme itching, irritation, pain around the anus and an itchy or painful lump near your anus.
“Some other symptoms are faecal leakage, painful bowel movement, blood on tissue after having a bowel movement,’’ Ogunbiyi said.
According to him, research has not really revealed the exact causes of haemorrhoids but several factors could be blamed for this ailment.
The consultant said straining during bowel movement, constipation, sitting on the toilet for too long and a family history of haemorrhoids could be causes.
He said pregnant women were also likely to have haemorrhoids when the uterus enlarged and pressed the vein in the colon, causing it to bulge.
Ogunbiyi said that haemorrhoids could be diagnosed through a visual examination of the anus.
“To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor may wish to do a different examination to check for any abnormalities within the anus.
“This check is known as digital rectal examination during which the doctor inserts a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum.
“If he feels anything abnormal, he may request additional tests like a sigmoidoscopy, which is a kind of camera used to diagnose an internal haemorrhoid,’’ he said.
The consultant said treatment options for haemorrhoids could be carried out at home or at the hospital, adding that it included giving pain relief programmes like painkillers, ointments and sit baths.
“Home treatment can include increasing your dietary vegetable, fruits, and fibre intake like whole wheat, brown rice, oatmeal, pears, carrots, bran and buckwheat.
“Dietary fibre helps create bulk in the intestines, which softens the stool making it easier for it to pass.
“Over-the-counter fibre supplements can also be used to help soften your stool if you are seriously constipated,’’ he added.
Ogunbiyi said if home treatments failed, other medical procedures like “ligation’’ could be used.
He said the ligation procedure involved the doctor cutting off the haemorrhoids blood circulation by placing a rubber band around it.
“This causes loss of circulation to the haemorrhoids causing it to shrink and, if the rubber ligation is not a chosen option, the doctor can inject a chemical into the blood vessel directly.
“This causes the haemorrhoids to reduce in size. This treatment is known as the injection therapy or sclerotherapy.
“The last option, which is the best treatment for haemorrhoids, is surgery in which the whole flaps, external or internal, is removed. This is hundred per cent safer and better,’’ Ogunbiyi said.
He said in order to prevent or avoid exacerbating haemorrhoids, patients should avoid straining during bowel movements.
The consultant advised that water intake should be increased as drinking adequate water could help keep stool from hardening.