Piles (Haemorrhoids) - Symptoms

What are the symptoms of piles?

Symptoms can vary depending on the size, position and grade of the pile:

  • Grade 1 are small swellings on the inside lining of the anal canal. They cannot be seen or felt from outside the opening of the back passage (anus). Grade 1 piles are common. In some people they enlarge further to grade 2 or more.
  • Grade 2 are larger. They may be partly pushed out from the anus when you go to the toilet, but quickly spring back inside again.
  • Grade 3 hang out from the anus when you go to the toilet. You may feel one or more as small, soft lumps that hang from the anus. However, you can push them back inside the anus with a finger.
  • Grade 4 permanently hang down from within the anus, and you cannot push them back inside. They sometimes become quite large.
Haemorrhoids (piles)

Sometimes there are no symptoms and may not realise that you have any piles.

The most common symptom is bleeding after going to the toilet to pass stools (faeces). The blood is usually bright red and may be noticed on the toilet tissue, in the toilet pan or coating the stools.

A pile can hang down (prolapse) and can be felt outside the back passage. Often, it can be pushed back up after you have been to the toilet. However, more severe piles remain permanently prolapsed and cannot be pushed back up inside.

Small internal piles are usually painless. Larger piles may cause a mucous discharge, some pain, irritation and itch. The discharge may irritate the skin around the anus. You may have a sense of fullness in the anus, or a feeling of not fully emptying your back passage when you go to the toilet.

What are the complications of piles?

A possible complication of piles that hang down is that they can 'strangulate'. This means that the blood supply to the pile has been cut off. A blood clot (thrombosis) can form within the pile. This causes really severe pain if it occurs. The pain usually reaches a peak after 48-72 hours and then gradually goes away over 7-10 days.

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Author:
Dr Colin Tidy
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Laurence Knott
Document ID:
4259 (v44)
Last Checked:
24 January 2017
Next Review:
24 January 2020

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Patient Platform Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.