How to Prevent Hemorrhoids: A Quick Guide
Hemorrhoids can be downright miserable. These irritated spots in and around your rectum can cause pain, swelling and itching. They might even bleed.
If you can keep hemorrhoids from forming, you'll be able to spare yourself this trouble. To protect your rectal health, take a look at this guide for how to prevent hemorrhoids. By following these steps, you'll reduce your chances of developing uncomfortable or painful hemorrhoids.
Establish healthy bathroom habits.
When the urge for a bowel movement hits you, it's smart to pay attention. Ignoring the need may leave you prone to hemorrhoids.
As stool sits in your bowel, moisture is drawn from it. The drier the stool becomes, the harder it will be to pass. Trying to push it out can put pressure on the veins in your rectum. The pressure causes the veins to swell, which turns them into problematic hemorrhoids.
In fact, even if you don't feel like you're straining, try to shorten the amount of time you spend sitting on the toilet. The longer you sit, the more pressure you'll put on the blood vessels in your rectal area. To reduce the temptation to hang out in the bathroom longer than necessary, leave your phone and reading material in the other room.
Chronic constipation has a reputation for causing hemorrhoid-inducing straining, but chronic diarrhea can be just as problematic. A long-term struggle with loose stools can irritate your rectum and cause hemorrhoids to develop.
If you're dealing with constipation or diarrhea, ask your doctor for tips on resolving the issue.
Eat a well-balanced diet.
Heading to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge isn't the only way to keep stools soft and easy to pass. Your diet will play a large role in this as well.
For most people, that means eating plenty of fiber. With a high-fiber diet, your stool will have more bulk to it, which eases the process of moving it out of your system.
Whole foods are some of the best sources of dietary fiber. This includes whole grains like brown rice and popcorn. Eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables is another good way to get the fiber you need. Nuts and legumes are beneficial for your bowels too.
If you struggle to get enough fiber through food alone, your doctor may recommend a fiber supplement.
You need to balance high fiber intake with proper hydration. Without enough water, eating a lot of fiber could lead to constipation — the exact opposite of your intended goal.
You may need to consume 11 or more cups of liquid each day for proper hydration, but that doesn't all need to come from glasses of plain water. Most other drinks count and so, too, does the fluid in your food.
Keep in mind that some people have special dietary needs that may affect their bowel habits. You may need to stay away from lactose or gluten in order to keep your stool the proper size and consistency.
You may also fall into the small group of people whose constipation issues are exacerbated by fiber consumption. Be sure to discuss any special dietary needs with your doctor.
Keep your weight in check.
Carrying excess pounds can contribute to the development of hemorrhoids. Being overweight or obese puts pressure on your rectum, which can irritate the veins and lead to hemorrhoids. Weight that's concentrated in the abdomen can be particularly problematic.
If you're currently at a healthy BMI, it's smart to maintain eating and exercise habits that will help you stay that size. If you weigh more than you should, work on dropping pounds in a healthy fashion. Speak to your doctor about safe, reliable ways to lose weight.
Women, take note that pregnancy can have a similar effect on your the veins in your rectum. Fear of hemorrhoids may not squelch your desire to have a baby, but it should remind you to take extra care with your bathroom and eating habits during pregnancy.
Maintain an active lifestyle.
Exercise can help you lose excess weight, but that's not the only way for it to contribute to hemorrhoid prevention.
The more you sit still, the more slowly your bowel does its work. Being active helps your colon move stool from one end to the other more quickly. That keeps it soft and easier to pass so that you won't need to spend as much time straining on the toilet.
If you're worried about developing hemorrhoids, it's a good idea to select your exercise style carefully. Activities like intense weightlifting may put hemorrhoid-inducing pressure on your abdomen. Walking, jogging, swimming or stretching might be a better fit for you.
For more on hemorrhoids, including prevention tips, check out this informative video:
Hopefully, these tips for how to prevent hemorrhoids will spare you pain and discomfort. If it's too late for that, talk to your doctor about treatment options. You may be a prime candidate for a minimally invasive procedure like rubber band ligation or laser treatment.
To find a doctor who specializes in colorectal care, use the Adler MicroMed Find a Doctor tool.
As with all medical issues, your physician is the ultimate source as to what procedure best fits your needs. Discuss all options and get a second opinion if you have any doubts. These articles are intended to be a source of general information only.