Piles are hemorrhoids that become inflamed. Hemorrhoids are masses, clumps, cushions of tissue in the anal canal – they are full of blood vessels, support tissue, muscle and elastic fibers. What are piles? Piles can be of various sizes and may be internal (inside the anus) or external ones (outside the anus). Typically, internal piles occur from 2 to 4cm above the opening of the anus. External piles (perianal hematoma) occur on the outside edge of the anus. The internal ones are much more common. According to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), symptomatic hemorrhoids affect at least half the American population at some time in their lives before the age of 50. In the majority of cases, piles are effectively treated with over-the-counter medications, a good fluid intake, and by following a diet high in fiber. In severe cases, the piles may have to be surgically removed. About 10% of patients who go and see their doctor about piles eventually require surgical intervention.
Although hemorrhoids are thought of as unpleasant inflammations, we all have them.1 It is when the hemorrhoidal cushions become too big (inflamed) that problems occur – when this happens they are called piles or pathological hemorrhoids. Fast facts on piles Here are some key points about piles. More detail and supporting information is in the main article. Piles are hemorrhoids that become inflamed. The size of piles can vary and are found inside or outside the anus. Half the US population are affected by piles, usually before the age of 50. Around 10% of patients who go and see their doctor about piles, require surgical treatment.2 Piles are often not serious and go away on their own. Internal hemorrhoids are ordered into four grades. External hemorrhoids are called perianal hematoma. Piles occur due to chronic constipation, chronic diarrhea, lifting heavy weights, pregnancy or straining when passing a stool. A doctor can usually diagnose piles rapidly on examination. For grades 3 or 4 hemorrhoids, surgery may be necessary.