Piles, medically known as hemorrhoids, are common problems affecting people of wide age groups.
Ever year thousands of people suffer from this disease in Nepal. It has become an epidemic affecting almost every household especially in city areas.
It is difficult to determine how common hemorrhoids are as many people with the condition do not see a healthcare provider.
However, symptomatic hemorrhoids are thought to affect at least 50% of the population. They are more common in people with higher socioeconomic status. Hemorrhoids are typically diagnosed by physical examination of the anal area.
These are vascular structures in the anal canal which help in stool control. When swollen or inflamed, they become piles.
Victims of piles have enlarged veins in the lower portion of their rectum or anus which increases the chances of tearing during defecation. If one has constipation, the tearing will be more.
This is the main reason for blood mixed stool during defecation. Both males and females are equally susceptible to piles. Especially those who belong to the high-class consume junk foods with low fibre leading to constipation and rectal bleeding.
It may also occur in pregnant women or just after they give birth. Hemorrhoids are also associated with rectal cancer if not treated properly and timely.
Many factors are responsible for piles like constipation, prolonged straining during bowel movement, being physically inactive, low fibre food, pregnancy, sitting or standing in the same position for a long time, hereditary and aging.
All these may result in increased pressure within blood vessels and contribute to swelling causing bleeding and discomfort. In pregnant women it is due to increased pressure in the abdomen either because of the fetus or straining during labor.
Most of the time treatment for hemorrhoids involves steps that you can take on your own, such as lifestyle modifications.
But sometimes medications or surgical procedures are necessary. Mild cases can be controlled by avoiding constipation, eating fibrous food, drinking lots of water and using stool softeners.
For painful hemorrhoids, various therapies and surgery are crucial. If we eat hygienic food and exercise regularly piles are not problematic.
The best way to prevent hemorrhoids is to keep your stool soft, so they pass easily by avoiding spicy, fermented, hot and chilly foods. Drinking a lot of pure water can help to prevent piles.
A version of this article appears in print on November 16, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.