Hemorrhoids are swollen and inflamed veins located in the lowest part of your rectal canal and anus. Often due to increased pressure in the lower rectum, they can become quite painful and bleed when irritated as the vein walls enlarge.
The inflamed veins associated with hemorrhoids are often due to straining during bowel movements and are made worse when your stools are hard and difficult to pass because of constipation. Long-term or chronic diarrhea can also cause and/or increase the pain from hemorrhoids.
To prevent hemorrhoids and reduce the pain if you have a flare-up, adopt lifestyle habits that limit pressure on your lower rectum, including softening your stools so they’re easier to pass. Here’s what we at Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center recommend.
For stools that are formed but soft and easy to pass, reassess the amount of fiber in your diet. If your daily totals are lacking, try adding fruits, vegetables, and 100% whole grain foods to the menu. The recommended amount can vary according to your age and gender, but a common adult average is 25 grams daily on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet.
And if you need more motivation to adopt a fiber-rich diet, research shows that diets rich in oats, barley, and other whole grains can also reduce your risk of heart disease, lower your cholesterol, and help you lose weight.
Your body lets you ignore the urge to have a bowel movement for a time, but there are consequences to delaying the inevitable. The longer your stool sits in your bowel, the drier and harder it becomes. This makes the stool difficult to pass and forces you to strain, which can cause or worsen hemorrhoids.
Moderate exercise helps keep waste moving through your colon at a reasonable pace, while a sedentary lifestyle slows everything down. Try activities such as brisk walking, biking, swimming, or yoga. Routine exercise can also help you lose the excess weight that may be exacerbating your hemorrhoids.
Avoid weightlifting-type squats and other similar exercises that increase abdominal pressure, since this can also increase your overall risk of developing hemorrhoids.
Drink six to eight glasses of water daily to help keep your stools soft. Avoid overindulging in alcohol, though, since it can cause dehydration and lead to constipation. If you increase your fiber intake, drink your daily quota of water because fiber without fluids can make stools hard.
Prolonged sitting, including the time you spend on the toilet, puts additional pressure on your anus. If you have a desk job, get up and move around periodically and don’t spend all your reading time on the toilet.
For treatment of a current hemorrhoid flare-up or more information about preventing hemorrhoids through diet and activity, schedule a visit at Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center today. Betsy F. Clemens, MD, leads our team and focuses specifically on anorectal disorders. Call our office or request a call back through our online form.