Although the onset of hemorrhoids has long been associated with prolonged sitting, a physician recently cautioned that prolonged standing may also cause piles.
Sun Li-wen (孫立文), head of surgery at Taipei City Hospital’s Yangming Branch, cited a recent case of a man in his 50s who works in a hypermart, a job that requires him to stand for at least eight hours a day.
For the past five or six years, the man was troubled by persistent rectal pain and when he finally went to a doctor for a check-up, swollen tissue extended out of his rectum.
Sun said that if a person experiences rectal pain or other symptoms in their rectal area, they must seek treatment immediately, adding that piles can cause extensive bleeding if left untreated, which could be life-threatening.
He said that the condition is usually caused by subjecting the anal region to prolonged pressure, resulting in the swelling and expansion of the soft tissue and blood vessels surrounding the rectum.
Sun said that there are three types of hemorrhoids: external, which is when the tissue protrudes out of the anal sphincter; internal, when the swelling only occurs on the inside of the rectum; and mixed, if both internal and external tissue is affected.
“No matter what type it is, if allowed to worsen, the tissue will eventually protrude outside of the anus, causing pain and bleeding,” Sun said.
He added that the 50-year-old patient only sought medical help after he was unable to sit or stand due to the pain, which was affecting his ability to work and enjoy life.
“When he came to the hospital, his piles were already in the fourth stage and he had to undergo a surgical procedure to remove the growth. He was discharged from the hospital the next day and is able to enjoy life again,” Sun said.
He stressed that this case showed that spending long periods of time standing could cause hemorrhoids in the same way as sitting for too long.
Seeking medical treatment early is the best way to cure the painful condition because in its initial stage it can be treated with a cream.
In the second stage, a procedure known as rubber band ligation is use to cut off blood flow to the hemorrhoids with rubber bands, while surgery is unavoidable for later-stage piles.
“To prevent developing this condition, it is advisable to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, and high-fiber foods, while cutting down on spicy food. People should avoid sitting or standing for extended periods of time, as well a reading while on the toilet, as this places additional pressure on the rectal-anal region,” Sun said.
“When experiencing constipation, diarrhea, or passing bloody stools, people should seek medical treatment,” he added. “Taking warm baths is also a preventive measure as it promotes blood circulation in the anal area.”