What are haemorrhoids?

Haemorrhoids, also known as piles, are soft fleshy lumps located within the lower part of the rectum and just inside the back passage (anus). They are caused by swollen blood vessels that can grow larger with time. They bleed easily, usually causing fresh bright-red bleeding when a motion is passed. They do not usually cause pain but can cause itching.

When large, they can pass through the anus (prolapsed pile) and rest outside your body - feeling like a lump when you clean yourself.

What causes haemorrhoids?

Haemorrhoids develop gradually, often over a long period of time. They are associated with constipation, often run in families and can be made worse by pregnancy.

Treatment of haemorrhoids

Haemorrhoids can often be successfully treated by simple measures such as eating more fibre and drinking more fluid. If these simple measures are unsuccessful, the haemorrhoids can usually be treated successfully in a clinic. Local treatments include ‘banding’ or ‘injecting’ the haemorrhoids.


Usually a day procedure that doesn’t require an anaesthetic. It involves placing a very tight elastic band around the base of your haemorrhoids to cut off their blood supply. Within a week, the haemorrhoids should then fall off and pass out of your body when you go to the toilet.

Most people can resume normal activities the next day, although you may feel some pain or discomfort for a day or so afterwards. Normal painkillers will usually be able to reduce this.


May be used as an alternative to banding, which involves injecting a chemical solution into the blood vessels in your rectum. This numbs the nerve endings at the site of the injection and hardens the tissue of the haemorrhoid to form a scar. After about four to six weeks, the haemorrhoid should decrease in size or shrivel up.

After treatment, you should avoid strenuous exercise for the rest of the day, although you should be able to return to work and your normal activities the following day. You may experience some minor pain and a small amount of bleeding for a short while.


Surgery takes place under general anaesthetic and usually takes around 20 minutes. Your surgeon will cut away the haemorrhoids or remove them with a staple gun.

In most cases, you’ll be able to go back home on the day of the procedure and can return to work the next day. If your treatment was carried out using a staple technique then this does not leave an open wound and you should expect to recover quickly. If you do have an open wound then it may be several weeks before this heals completely.
To read about surgical removal of haemorrhoids visit our treatment page.