Anyone can develop hemorrhoids. In fact, it’s estimated that about 50% of people will have the anorectal condition by the time they reach age 50.
Though anyone can develop hemorrhoids, truck drivers are at an increased risk of having the condition that causes anal itchiness and discomfort. However, it’s not because they spend long hours sitting behind the wheel of their truck.
At Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center in Creve Coeur, Missouri, our board-certified family medicine physician, Dr. Betsy Clemens, specializes in diagnosing and treating anorectal conditions, including hemorrhoids.
Because truckers are at increased risk of getting hemorrhoids, we wanted to share with you what you need to know.
Signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids
Signs and symptoms of hemorrhoids vary, and you may even dismiss your anal discomfort as an unfortunate side effect of spending long hours sitting on your buttocks as you crisscross the country.
Your symptoms may also depend on the type of hemorrhoids you have:
External hemorrhoids develop under the sensitive skin around the anus. With external hemorrhoids, you may experience anal itchiness or irritation or anal pain that worsens when sitting.
Internal hemorrhoids develop in the lining of the lower rectum. You’re less likely to feel physical symptoms with internal hemorrhoids. But with these types of hemorrhoids, you may bleed during a bowel movement.
Hemorrhoids are a common cause of blood in stool; however, it’s not a symptom you should ignore. Rectal bleeding may be a sign of a more serious condition such as colon cancer.
Hemorrhoids in truck drivers
Many truckers blame their prolonged sitting for the development of their hemorrhoids. But, according to Harvard Health Publishing, those hours aren’t likely the cause.
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus and lower rectum. They develop when there’s excess pressure on these veins. Constipation, straining during a bowel movement, and spending too much time sitting on the toilet are common causes of excess pressure.
In truck drivers, though, hemorrhoids are more likely to develop because of a low-fiber diet and irregular bathroom breaks that lead to constipation and excessive straining. Heavy lifting may also be a contributing factor.
Treating hemorrhoids in truck drivers
Treatment for hemorrhoids depends on many factors, including hemorrhoid type, symptoms, and personal preferences. No matter your occupation, we work one-on-one with you to develop a plan that provides you with the best outcomes.
To relieve pain and itching, we may suggest over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams or wipes. Regular sitz baths also help alleviate symptoms, but they may not work when you’re on the road.
In addition, you may benefit from a fiber supplement or stool softener to limit straining, and we recommend you limit the amount of time you spend sitting on the toilet.
If your hemorrhoids fail to improve with at-home care, we may suggest infrared coagulation (IRC) treatment, which is a minimally invasive in-office procedure that shrinks hemorrhoids to normal size. Most of our patients get relief from their hemorrhoid symptoms within seven to 10 days after IRC treatment.
Lifestyle changes to reduce hemorrhoids
So, it’s not the job itself that increases your risk of developing hemorrhoids, but the truck driver lifestyle. To treat and prevent hemorrhoids, you may need to make a few lifestyle changes. One of the first places to start is your diet, making sure you get enough fiber and fluids to prevent constipation.
Instead of picking up unhealthy snacks at the truck stops along your route, pack a bag filled with high-fiber snacks such as:
- Apples, oranges, or pears
- Raisins, dried figs, or dried peaches
- Almonds, pistachios, or cashews
- Sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
When adding more fiber to your diet, go slowly. Eating too much fiber too quickly may backfire and cause gas and bloating, worsening your constipation.
We also recommend you drink plenty of fluids when upping your daily fiber intake to keep things moving. Keep a refillable water bottle by your side to drink in between stops. Though fluid needs vary, aim for 12 to 16 cups a day.
Hemorrhoids are a common health problem for truck drivers, but not one you can’t fix. For help getting on track, call our office at 636-228-3136, or schedule an appointment online with Dr. Clemens today.