Haemorrhoids are a medical condition that can have a variety of causes and present with a range of different symptoms. In mild cases, you may experience very few symptoms or even none at all. However, for some people, they can cause pain, itchiness, discomfort, and even bleeding.
This page will go into more detail about what exactly bleeding haemorrhoids are, as well as the factors that can cause them and the other symptoms you may experience.
What are bleeding haemorrhoids?
Haemorrhoids, also referred to as piles, are enlarged blood vessels that can develop in and around the anus (the entrance to your bottom). There are a few different types of haemorrhoids and the symptoms for each of these types of haemorrhoids can be slightly different. However, all may result in bleeding piles.
- Internal haemorrhoids – these form inside the rectum
- External haemorrhoids – these form beneath the skin around the opening of the anus
- Thrombosed haemorrhoids – these are haemorrhoids in any location that has a blood clot inside them
Internal haemorrhoids can be further categorised into those that remain inside the anus and those which may pop out when you defecate.
Of those that do pop out, some will go back inside on their own, whereas others will need to be physically pushed back in. You may have only one form of piles; however, it is possible to experience some or all types of haemorrhoid at the same time.
Haemorrhoids are quite a common condition and, in most cases, will go away on their own within a few days. In fact, some people don’t even realise they have them.
For more severe cases, piles may last for a few weeks or require some form of medical treatment. In addition to at-home remedies, there are both surgical and non-surgical options available to get rid of bleeding haemorrhoids.
Your doctor will be able to advise you on the most appropriate treatment for your condition.
Causes bleeding haemorrhoids
There are a number of reasons why the veins in your anus may become swollen and develop into piles. Indeed, for many people, the specific cause of their bleeding haemorrhoids remains unknown. Generally speaking, piles are caused by excessive pressure on the blood vessels in and around the anus. This, in turn, can be brought about by many different activities.
Below are some of the most common causes of bleeding piles.
One possible contributing factor in the development of bleeding piles is constipation. This is because spending long periods of time sitting on the toilet and straining during bowel movements can cause the veins in your anus to stretch under the pressure.
On top of this, if your stools are especially large and/or dry, this can cause damage such as an anal tear (cut on the anus) or bleeding haemorrhoids. Similarly, chronic diarrhoea can also lead to piles or exacerbate them.
Straining on the toilet
Even if you don’t have constipation, spending a lot of time sitting on the toilet or straining when you defecate can still lead to bleeding piles. Both actions put pressure on the veins in and around the anus and may lead to swelling as a result.
Therefore, it’s important to develop healthy bathroom habits, such as not ignoring the need to poo when it arises, not pushing too hard, and not taking your phone or anything else into the bathroom with you that might make you stay on the toilet for longer.
Pregnancy and childbirth
Experiencing bleeding haemorrhoids during pregnancy or shortly after labour is common. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, the hormones your body produces during pregnancy can cause your veins to relax, which in turn may increase the risk of them swelling.
Similarly, the extra pressure on your abdomen and pelvis from carrying and then delivering the baby can result in blood vessels becoming enlarged.
Lifting heavy weights
If you don’t use the proper technique, lifting heavy objects – for example, at the gym or as part of your job – can cause bleeding piles. Holding your breath, grunting, or straining when picking up weights, furniture, or similar items puts pressure on your abdomen.
This, in turn, can result in a haemorrhoid, so it’s important not to overexert yourself or forget to breathe.
Just as pushing yourself too hard can result in piles, so can not pushing yourself hard enough. Those who have a sedentary lifestyle and spend a lot of time sitting down are at a greater risk of developing haemorrhoids because this also puts more pressure on the blood vessels in your anus.
In addition, a lack of activity can contribute to constipation, which is, in turn, a risk factor for bleeding piles.
Ageing and other risk factors
As we get older, many of our muscles and tissues weaken and stretch. This is true of those in the rectum as well, so ageing can increase your chances of developing bleeding haemorrhoids. Other risk factors that make it more likely you’ll have piles include:
- Being overweight or obese, due to the extra pressure this puts on your body
- Other medical conditions such as infection or a chronic cough, which can weaken blood vessels or raise the pressure in your abdomen
- If you have previously had surgery in your rectum – the muscles may be weaker there as a result
- A lack of fibre in your diet
- Some people believe that stress can contribute to the development of piles
Symptoms bleeding haemorrhoids
Bleeding piles can present with a number of different symptoms. You may find that you experience some, none, or all of them, depending on the location, size, and severity of your haemorrhoids.
If you do notice a lot of blood with your haemorrhoids or non-stop bleeding, you should contact your doctor.
Bright red bleeding
It’s possible to have both internal haemorrhoids bleeding and external haemorrhoid bleeding, and the blood will usually be bright red in both cases.
Dark red bleeding
When it comes to thrombosed haemorrhoid bleeding, these can burst if they become too full. In that case, the blood loss may be darker and clotted.
Blod on toilet paper
You may spot piles blood on the toilet paper after wiping, in your stools, or in the toilet itself. Bleeding is most common during bowel movements, and the amount of blood tends not to be very much.
Other symptoms of piles
In addition to bleeding, you may also experience the following symptoms when you have piles:
- Itching around the anus
- A feeling of pressure, or as though you still need to defecate after a bowel movement
- Finding slimy mucus on the toilet paper after wiping or in your underwear
- Pain and/or irritation in and around the anus
- Anal lumps
- Swelling in the region
It’s important to note that there are other conditions that can cause bleeding in or around the anus, for example, a rectal tear or inflammatory bowel disease — as such, booking an appointment with your GP for an exact diagnosis is advisable.
Treatment bleeding haemorrhoids
The options can be broadly categorised into non-surgical methods and surgical procedures. The best bleeding piles treatment for you will depend on several factors, including the location, type, and severity of your haemorrhoids.
Bear in mind that these methods won’t necessarily stop bleeding haemorrhoids from returning later in life, so it’s important to follow the preventive measures discussed above too.
Non-surgical bleeding haemorrhoids treatment
Some of the most common non-surgical bleeding piles treatments include:
If you have a milder case of hemorrhoids, the treatment may initially consist of a diet change and other home remedies in combination with an over-the-counter medicine such as a cream.
While hemorrhoid creams treat external symptoms, suppositories go deeper. Apply suppositories internally and use the cream externally to treat hemorrhoids and superficial anal fissures.
This involves injecting a chemical solution into your haemorrhoids to make them shrink.
In this bleeding piles cure, a gentle electric current is applied to your piles, which makes them shrink.
Rubber band ligation
This treatment for internal bleeding haemorrhoids involves placing a tiny rubber band around your piles to stop the blood flow and cause them to drop off.
This bleeding hemorrhoids treatment uses an infrared light to cut the blood supply to piles and make them shrink.
Cream and suppositories can be treated at home. The other types of bleeding piles treatments are generally carried out in the hospital, and you can usually go home on the same day. You will normally be awake during the procedure, but the affected area will be numbed.
Surgical bleeding haemorrhoids treatment
Surgical treatments tend to be used with more severe cases of bleeding piles or those that have prolapsed. In most instances, you will be asleep during the procedure and may have to stay in the hospital for longer than a day. Some of the most common surgical bleeding piles treatments include:
- Haemorrhoidectomy – This method involves cutting out the haemorrhoids.
- Stapled haemorrhoidopexy – This technique involves using surgical staples to attach a prolapsed haemorrhoid back inside the rectum.
- Haemorrhoidal artery ligation – This procedure uses stitches to cut the blood supply to the haemorrhoid and make it shrink.
Bleeding haemorrhoids FAQs
Can there be a lot of blood with hemorrhoids?
Although it might be scary to see blood on the toilet paper or in your stool, bleeding is a normal symptom of haemorrhoids. Piles blood is usually just a result of the haemorrhoids being damaged or irritated, for example, when you have a bowel movement. This is why they generally only bleed when you go to the toilet. They might not do so every time, and this is normal too
How long do burst piles bleed for?
Burst piles can bleed anywhere from just a few seconds to up to 10 minutes – if it continues any longer than this, you should seek medical assistance.
How can I prevent piles?
There are a number of steps you can take to prevent the development of bleeding piles or ease the symptoms if you have them.
They include increasing the amount of fibre in your diet, drinking plenty of water, maintaining good personal hygiene, and staying physically active. When it comes to your toilet habits, it can be helpful to use moist wipes rather than dry toilet paper, avoid straining during bowel movements, not spend too long on the toilet, and not ignore the urge to poo when it arises.
What home remedies are there for bleeding piles?
If you experience bleeding haemorrhoids, there are several effective home remedies you can try to alleviate your symptoms and heal more quickly. These include:
- Taking a warm bath to relieve itchiness and pain
- Gently pushing the piles back inside if they pop out
- Patting rather than rubbing when wiping your bottom
- Avoiding sitting down for too long, and using a doughnut-shaped pillow rather than sitting on a hard surface
- Taking a laxative if you’re also suffering from constipation
- Using an ice pack wrapped in a towel or a clean cloth wrung out in ice water to ease pain and discomfort in the area
- Using a cream or ointment for bleeding haemorrhoids
- Taking a painkiller for relief – although you should avoid ibuprofen if you have bleeding piles
When should I go to the doctor for bleeding piles?
People are often embarrassed to go to the doctor with a condition such as bleeding haemorrhoids. However, in some cases, you might need medical treatment for them. As a general rule, if you have bleeding piles that don’t go away within a couple of days, it’s wise to book an appointment. Your GP will then be able to assess the severity of your haemorrhoids and rule out any other conditions, such as anal fissure bleeding, that have similar symptoms.
You should seek urgent medical attention if you have bleeding piles and any of the following apply:
- You are bleeding heavily (for example, if the water in the toilet turns red)
- You are bleeding non-stop
- You are in severe pain
- You have pus leaking from your piles
- You have a fever or feel hot and shivery
Is bleeding piles cancerous?
The short answer is that no, bleeding piles are not cancerous, nor do they lead to anal cancer. However, although the two conditions are very different, they can sometimes present with the same symptoms.
Rectal bleeding, anal lumps, and itching in the area can be caused by both haemorrhoids and anal cancer. As such, if you experience these symptoms and they don’t clear up in a few days, it’s best to get an official diagnosis from your GP to be safe. Some signs to be especially wary of include persistent abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, and fatigue or weakness.
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