Prevention of Haemorrhoids

There is no guaranteed way of preventing piles, but a high fibre diet is a good place to start. This will reduce the risk of constipation and the straining to pass a stool that can cause haemorrhoids. General recommendations are:

Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables (at least five portions every day)

Cut down on fat (especially animal fat), sugary food, refined and processed food * Eat plenty of pulses (eg peas, beans, lentils) * Eat plenty of wholegrain foods (use the wholemeal varieties of bread, pasta and breakfast cereals) * Drink alcohol in moderation.

A high-fibre diet is also best if you already have haemorrhoids. This helps to prevent constipation and avoid the straining to pass a stool that can make haemorrhoids worse.

For most people with haemorrhoids, the condition is mild and can be treated with over the counter (OTC) medicines that tackle the symptoms, usually in the form of ointments or suppositories. Haemorrhoids caused by pregnancy may go away after the baby has been born.

Various preparations and brands are commonly used. They do not 'cure' haemorrhoids. However, they may ease symptoms such as discomfort and itch. A bland soothing cream, ointment, or suppository may ease discomfort. They can be used as often as you like. Several brands are available without a prescription.

One that contains an anaesthetic may ease pain better. You should only use these for short periods at a time (5-7 days). If you use it for longer, the anaesthetic may irritate or sensitise the skin around the anus. One that contains a steroid may be prescribed by a doctor if there is a lot of inflammation around the haemorrhoids. Steroids reduce inflammation and may help to reduce any swelling around a haemorrhoid. This may help to ease itch and pain. You should not normally use these for longer than one week at a time.

Very painful prolapsed haemorrhoids are uncommon. The pain may be eased by an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas) pressed on for 15-30 minutes. Strong painkillers may be needed.

Haemorrhoids of pregnancy usually settle after the birth of the child. Treatment is similar to the above.