Gastroenterology and hepatology > Piles (haemorrhoids)

  • Haemorrhoids, or ‘piles’, are swollen fleshy pads filled with veins. They occur just inside the rectum (back passage) or on the anus.
  • Haemorrhoids are very common, and often run in the family. They may be associated with constipation or straining during bowel movements, and often occur for the first time during pregnancy.
  • Symptoms include bleeding from the rectum, usually after a bowel motion (blood may be seen on toilet paper), pain in the rectum, particularly when a stool is being passed, and collapse of the haemorrhoids out of the rectum when passing a stool. The haemorrhoids may return into the body spontaneously, but may need to be pushed back gently with a finger.
  • Haemorrhoids inside the rectum may be diagnosed by the doctor gently examining your rectum with a finger, or using a proctoscope (an instrument that enables the inside of the rectum to be seen).
  • Haemorrhoids can usually be treated in the outpatient department. You will either be given an injection via the rectum that will cause the swellings to shrink, or the swellings will be reduced in size by placing small elastic bands over their base. These procedures are painless, although you may feel some discomfort.
  • Large or more complicated haemorrhoids may have to be removed in an operation.