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Piles (Haemorrhoids)

Updated 15 May 2018

Preventing piles (haemorrhoids)

Hemorrhoids, also called piles, are swollen, inflamed veins around the anus or lower rectum.

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Follow these steps to cut your risk for haemorrhoids:

Eat fibre-rich foods such as fruit, vegetables, beans, pulses, wholegrains and nuts every day. This will help soften your stools and prevent constipation.

Drink lots of fluids (not alcohol). This also helps to soften stools.

Consider taking a fibre supplement (e.g. Fybogel). Research shows that fibre supplements cut the risk of bleeding in people with haemorrhoids by 50%. Just remember to increase your water intake, too. This keeps the stool soft and regular.

Try to stay regular. A good idea is to try to go to the toilet at the same time every day, after your main meal.

Go to the toilet when you feel the urge. Don’t wait until there’s a more convenient time, as this can cause constipation

Elevate your feet while sitting on the toilet. This posture lessens the pressure on the veins.

Exercise regularly. Physical activity helps to prevent constipation, while reducing pressure on the veins and helping you to keep your weight in check.

Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight adds additional pressure to the anal region.

Avoid sitting for long periods of time. Take regular breaks and, if you work in an office environment, consider working at a standing desk. Make sure you sit on soft, and not hard, surfaces.

Note that certain medications have constipation and/or diarrhoea as side effects. Talk to your doctor about changing your prescription if this applies to you.

Reviewed by Dr Britta Dedekind, General Surgeon at Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital. MBChB, FCS (SA), MMED (UCT). April 2018.

 

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