By Massarat Zutshi, MD
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If you have hemorrhoids, you have plenty of treatment options at your disposal. However, if you have hemorrhoids, you’ll probably advise others to avoid getting them in the first place.
Hemorrhoids — swollen, inflamed venous cushions in the anal canal — can be occasionally painful and itchy and can cause bleeding. But you can avoid these irritating symptoms with some simple lifestyle changes.
- 1. Go when you need to go
- 2. Don’t turn the bathroom into a reading room
- 3. Reassess your diet
- 4. Get moving
- 5. See your doctor
- 6 Easy Ways to Prevent Hemorrhoids
- 1. Fill Up on Fiber
- 2. Drink Enough Water
- 3. Get Plenty of Exercise
- 4. Be Careful When It Comes to Laxatives
- 5. Don’t Fight the Urge
- 6. Avoid Straining
- Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for Hemorrhoids
- What should I eat if I have hemorrhoids?
- What should I avoid eating if I have hemorrhoids?
- 5 Foods to eat if you suffer from Piles
- Six home remedies for hemorrhoids
- How can you avoid making your hemorrhoids worse?
- Foods to Avoid with Hemorrhoids
- Temporarily Soothe Hemorrhoid Symptoms by Avoiding These Symptoms
- Permanently Treat Hemorrhoids with the CRH O’Regan Hemorrhoid Banding System
1. Go when you need to go
This sounds like common-sense advice, but too many people ignore it. If you delay using the bathroom, your stool may become hard and dry in your bowel, which makes it harder to pass. If you strain to pass stool, your risk for developing hemorrhoids increases.
Speaking of straining, don’t force a bowel movement when you don’t need to go, either. Straining increases the pressure on your venous cushions, which leads to hemorrhoids. In particular, straining can turn internal hemorrhoids into external ones.
2. Don’t turn the bathroom into a reading room
Think of your time in the bathroom as a necessity, not an extended escape. If your toilet has stacks of magazines or books on the water tank, consider moving them to another room. Don’t take your phone into the toilet area — no browsing Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter or playing games.
Why? The more time you spend on the toilet, the more likely you will strain for bowel movements. Also, the seated position puts extra stress on your anal blood vessels. Both of these factors boost your risk of hemorrhoids.
3. Reassess your diet
To prevent hemorrhoids, you want stool that is soft and easy to pass. You can reach the right consistency by making smart diet choices and drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
A lack of fiber is the most common culprit. For example, if you find yourself constipated, try getting more fiber from green vegetables, fruits and 100 percent whole grains. If need be, ask your doctor about taking fiber supplements, but start by trying to get fiber through your diet. Fiber can help you avoid constipation, and constipation — which leads to straining — is a risk factor for hemorrhoids.
Drink plenty of water with the fiber. Fiber without water makes stools hard.
Fiber comes with a warning, though. Some people have what we call “slow transit constipation.” Their bowels move slower than normal. For these people, excess fiber tends to sit in the gut and make constipation worse.
Also, listen to your body and avoid foods that irritate your bowels. For some people, the lactose in dairy products is an irritant. For others, it’s gluten or too many refined foods.
4. Get moving
Moderate exercise helps improve or prevent many bowel and digestive issues, including hemorrhoids. When you are sedentary, everything slows down, including your bowels.
Exercise helps keep waste moving through your intestinal tract. In turn, this helps you avoid constipation and dry, hard stool. Walking, running short distances, biking, yoga — take your pick, but choose an active lifestyle.
One note of caution, though if you have hemorrhoids: Avoid heavy-duty weight-lifting squats and similar motions that increase abdominal pressure. If you’re trying to prevent hemorrhoids, these exercises can do more harm than good.
5. See your doctor
If your symptoms change or the bleeding increases, see a doctor and get your symptoms evaluated. Not all hemorrhoid treatment options are surgical and you may need as assessment to rule out other diseases.
6 Easy Ways to Prevent Hemorrhoids
1. Fill Up on Fiber
Hemorrhoids are more likely to occur in people who have infrequent bowel movements. One of the easiest, most natural ways to become more regular is by filling up on fiber either through your diet or supplements. “Adding fiber to the diet is the universal recommendation of both family doctors and gastroenterologists,” says Dr. Kussin. “It may increase gas, but this is a small price to pay for the benefits.” Aim to get 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day. Great food sources of fiber include:
- Legumes, such as split peas, lentils, black beans, lima beans, and baked beans
- Whole grains, such as barley, bran flakes, oatmeal, and brown rice
- Vegetables, such as artichoke, green peas, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts
- Fruits, such as raspberries, pears, apples, and bananas
2. Drink Enough Water
This hemorrhoid prevention strategy is simple and cheap, yet so few of us actually do it. Along with eating a healthy diet full of fiber, adequate hydration from water is the key to having healthy bowel movements. “Drinking enough water helps prevent constipation and therefore decreases straining,” says Richard Desi, MD, a gastroenterologist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. Drinking six to eight glasses of water each day doesn’t just keep your digestive system running smoothly, it benefits your entire body.
3. Get Plenty of Exercise
According to Dr. Desi, exercise and hemorrhoids have a love-hate relationship. “Exercise helps keep the colon more regular,” he says. “However, engaging in activities that increase abdominal pressure and/or straining (such as weightlifting) can lead to the formation of hemorrhoids.” Staying active reduces your time spent sitting and putting pressure on the veins in your lower rectum. If you have a history of problematic hemorrhoids, you might want to steer clear of lifting heavy weights or other strenuous activities and opt for more moderate exercise routines such as yoga, swimming, or walking to prevent hemorrhoids from flaring.
4. Be Careful When It Comes to Laxatives
When you’re constipated, some fiber supplements, particularly psyllium capsules, have a track record of helping get you more regular, which can prevent painful hemorrhoids. As far as laxatives go, they can help as long as you choose the correct ones. “The safest laxatives are those that work with your body rather than those that stimulate or simulate normal physiological activities,” Kussin says. “Some laxatives work by stimulating intestinal contraction to move the contents along. This might increase hemorrhoid pressures and cause symptoms.” To prevent hemorrhoids or to treat hemorrhoids that are active, Kussin suggests osmotic laxatives that simply increase the amount of water in the gut and reduce constipation.
5. Don’t Fight the Urge
When you have to go, go. This is one of the simplest ways to prevent hemorrhoids. “Ignoring Mother Nature has its risks, and hemorrhoids are one of them,” Kussin says. “If you obey your body when it screams at you, the chance of problems is less. You listen to everyone else when they scream at you; why not listen to your own body, too? When you wait until you decide you have the time to move your bowels, success will be far more elusive and straining far more likely.”
6. Avoid Straining
Straining and putting more pressure on the veins in your rectum is one of the most common causes of painful or bleeding hemmorhoids. In some cases, this can happen as a result of pushing too hard when trying to have a bowel movement. Other situations can cause straining too, such as lifting heavy objects, a chronic cough, or even pregnancy. If you have issues with hemorrhoids, Kussin advises being aware of the strain you’re putting on your bowels and avoiding it as much as you can.
Read more: Hemorrhoids: What to Know
Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for Hemorrhoids
What should I eat if I have hemorrhoids?
Your doctor may recommend that you eat more foods that are high in fiber. Eating foods that are high in fiber can make stools softer and easier to pass and can help treat and prevent hemorrhoids. Drinking water and other liquids, such as fruit juices and clear soups, can help the fiber in your diet work better. Ask your doctor about how much you should drink each day based on your health and activity level and where you live.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a dietary fiber intake of 14 grams per 1,000 calories consumed. For example, for a 2,000-calorie diet, the fiber recommendation is 28 grams per day.
The amount of fiber in a food is listed on the food’s nutrition facts label. Some fiber-rich foods are listed in the table below.
|Fiber Rich Foods|
|Food and Portion Size||Amount of Fiber|
|⅓‒¾ cup high-fiber bran, ready-to-eat cereal||9.1–14.3 grams|
|1‒1¼ cups of shredded wheat, ready-to-eat cereal||5.0–9.0 grams|
|1½ cups whole-wheat spaghetti, cooked||3.2 grams|
|1 small oat bran muffin||3.0 grams|
|1 medium pear, with skin||5.5 grams|
|1 medium apple, with skin||4.4 grams|
|½ cup of raspberries||4.0 grams|
|½ cup of stewed prunes||3.8 grams|
|½ cup of green peas, cooked||3.5–4.4 grams|
|½ cup of mixed vegetables, cooked from frozen||4.0 grams|
|½ cup of collards, cooked||3.8 grams|
|1 medium sweet potato, baked in skin||3.8 grams|
|1 medium potato, baked, with skin||3.6 grams|
|½ cup of winter squash, cooked||2.9 grams|
|½ cup navy beans, cooked||9.6 grams|
|½ cup pinto beans, cooked||7.7 grams|
|½ cup kidney beans, cooked||5.7 grams|
A doctor or dietitian can help you learn how to add more high-fiber foods to your diet.
If you have hemorrhoids, your doctor may recommend eating more foods that are high in fiber.
What should I avoid eating if I have hemorrhoids?
If your hemorrhoids are caused by chronic constipation, try not to eat too many foods with little or no fiber, such as
- fast food
- ice cream
- prepared foods, such as some frozen and snack foods
- processed foods, such as hot dogs and some microwavable dinners
5 Foods to eat if you suffer from Piles
Piles, commonly known as hemorrhoid is a condition that leads to pain, discomfort and irritation while passing stool. It is caused due to inflammation of the veins in the lower rectum area. Piles is of two types: internal and external, one can suffer from both simultaneously. The damage in the lower rectum area is a result of aging, chronic constipation, pregnancy, diarrhea and consuming processed food on a daily basis. Piles also lead to bleeding not just while passing the stool but anytime. It is recommended to monitor one’s diet and construct a plan that helps to diminish the problem. Here are certain types of foods which can help you deal with Piles better.
- Whole grains – People suffering from piles are recommended to include a lot of healthy whole grains into their diet like bran cereal, brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta. These fiber rich foods soften the stool and help reduce the pain.
- Leafy green vegetables – Green vegetables are packed with antioxidants and nutrients that help with digestion. Strengthening the digestive system is important while treating piles. Broccoli, sprouts, carrots, brussels, cabbage, tomato, asparagus, cauliflower, onions, cucumber are some of the vegetables that one should consume while battling piles.
- Fruits – Fruits are high in nutrients, fiber, minerals and vitamins that help to regulate the bowel movement. Fruits that can be eaten with their skin on like apples, prunes, raisins, grapes, berries are full of fiber and are very beneficial. The ones that have to be eaten without the skin are good too, for example, papaya, banana, oranges.
- Beans – Beans are high in fiber content and should be included in regular meals of a piles patient. Kidney, black, lima, navy beans, black-eyed peas, legumes are some good options.
- Water – Although it is not a food, water is an important ingredient when it comes to treating piles. It is advisable to drink at least 6-8 glasses of water daily which helps with the smooth functioning of the bowel movement.
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Related Tip: Treating Constipation Effectively with Homeopathy
Six home remedies for hemorrhoids
There are many hemorrhoid treatment options available in the home or in the form of over-the-counter medications. Many of the treatment methods involve simply easing the symptoms of the hemorrhoids until they clear up on their own.
1. Warm baths
Share on PinterestA warm bath including Epsom salts may help to ease the symptoms of hemorrhoids.
Sitting in a tub of warm water that is filled just enough to cover the legs may help to ease the swelling and reduce irritation caused by hemorrhoids.
Some people also choose to add other ingredients to the bath in order to help reduce symptoms even further. These ingredients can include a cup of Epsom salts or apple cider vinegar.
Other people choose to add apple cider vinegar directly to the hemorrhoid, but this may sting and irritate the swollen skin even more.
Epsom salts are available for purchase online, as is apple cider vinegar.
2. Witch hazel
People should be cautious about what is placed on or near hemorrhoids, as they can easily become more inflamed and irritated. Many people apply witch hazel directly to the external hemorrhoids to find relief.
Natural witch hazel is an astringent, which is a substance that causes tissue to shrink. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, according to research in the Journal of Inflammation. Witch hazel is known to reduce bruising.
Adding a small amount of pure witch hazel to a cotton ball and dabbing onto the hemorrhoid may provide relief from many symptoms. If this makes symptoms worse, people should try a less direct method.
It is important that the witch hazel is not diluted with alcohol, as this can dry out and irritate the hemorrhoid.
If you want to buy witch hazel, then there is a selection online.
3. Coconut oil
Coconut oil, which is available online, is a natural moisturizer, which may also help with hemorrhoid symptoms. Applying coconut oil may reduce the irritation and swelling, and it may also help reduce the urge to scratch.
4. Aloe vera
Aloe vera has been used by many cultures to treat a variety of issues. According to research in BioMed Research International, the plant has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and may help heal wounds.
Aloe may provide relief from the burning, itching, and swelling caused by hemorrhoids when applied to the anus. Purity is very important, as additives and preservatives can make symptoms worse.
A range of aloe vera gels is available for purchase online.
5. Ice packs
Applying ice or cold packs to the hemorrhoid may also help relieve pain and inflammation. Applying an ice pack while seated or when the hemorrhoid flares up can help numb pain and temporarily reduce swelling.
People should be sure to wrap the ice in a small towel to avoid damage to the skin. Leave the ice pack on for 15 minutes and repeat the process hourly.
6. Over-the-counter medications
In cases where simple remedies are not enough or the pain is too great, over-the-counter drugs and creams may provide some relief.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help. Applying creams to the skin that contain ingredients such as hydrocortisone could provide temporary relief as well.
How can you avoid making your hemorrhoids worse?
Avoid worsening your hemorrhoids with the following tips:
- Bump up the fiber. It softens your stools and makes them move through your body more easily. You’ll find it in beans, whole-grain breads and cereals, and fresh fruits and veggies. You may also want to try a supplement if you can’t get enough from foods. Add fiber slowly to help avoid gas and bloating.
- Drink lots of fluids. Stay well hydrated to keep stools soft so they’re easier to pass. Water is the best choice. Drink plenty throughout the day. Prune juice is a natural laxative and can help you go.
- Exercise regularly. Even brisk walking 20-30 minutes every day can help keep you from getting stopped up.
- Breathe! Keep the air moving in and out when you’re working hard. It’s common to hold your breath as you’re pushing, pulling, or making an effort (you probably don’t realize you’re doing it) — and that can lead to hemorrhoid pain and bleeding.
- Use a pillow. Sit on a cushion instead of a hard surface. It will ease swelling for any hemorrhoids you have. It may also help prevent new ones from forming.
- Take breaks. If you must sit for a long time, get up every hour and move around for at least 5 minutes.
You can’t sit, you’re itchy in embarrassing places, and going to the bathroom is almost unbearable. Newsflash: You might have a hemorrhoid. These painful little knots show up on about 50% of people at least once in a lifetime and are a pain in the butt. Har.
To get technical, we actually all have hemorrhoids all the time. A hemorrhoid is a little cluster of veins underneath the mucous membranes that line your rectum and anus. Hemorrhoids only become a problem when those veins get swollen, often as a result of too much pressure. While you can do everything right and still have this problem (fun fact: research says you do not have to avoid spicy foods), there are steps you can take to, ah, cover your ass.
Lately it seems like exercise is a magic cure for just about anything—and that’s because it is. Not only will it help you avoid problems like heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s, but keeping your muscles loose and limber even takes care of issues down below. It all has to do with how often you go #2, according to Harvard Health. Constipation and the straining that comes along with it can put too much pressure on your bottom. Harvard Health suggests 20 to 30 minutes a day of moderate aerobic exercise, like taking a brisk walk, to stimulate your bowels and keep you regular.
(Lose up to 15 pounds WITHOUT dieting with Eat Clean to Get Lean, our 21-day clean-eating meal plan.)
Although the reason isn’t clear, some studies show a correlation between having a clean bum and hemorrhoids—in favor of personal hygiene, of course. In one study of 138 people, scientists found washing up after you poopand cleaning your bottom in the shower had a significant effect on whether study participants got hemorrhoids. The study suggests you should shower before bed at least once a week, making sure to pay special attention to your genitals.
MORE: 7 Things Your Poop Says About You
Eat More Fiber
Fiber is an important part of a healthy diet—and a healthy bottom. Since fiber helps keep you regular, it prevents hemorrhoids in the same way as exercise—by preventing constipation. You should aim for about 25 to 30 grams of fiber every day, which you can find in high-fiber foods like beans, broccoli, carrots, bran, whole grains, and fresh fruits. (Check out these 10 best foods to avoid constipation—and the worst.)
No, not alcohol—some studies suggest excessive alcohol use can actually cause hemorrhoids—but rather good ol’ H20. Water makes up about 75% of a healthy poop. Keeping hydrated helps your stool stay soft and, you guessed it, staves off constipation.
MORE: 7 Weird Things Your Teeth Are Trying To Tell You
Take It Easy
In a twist on the usual health news, one study of 2,813 people found that sedentary behavior actually reduced the risk of hemorrhoids, and that carrying a few extra pounds had no correlation to the bumps whatsoever. While it may seem contradictory (you actually WANT me to sit on the couch?), in the case of hemorrhoids taking it easy actually makes sense. Research shows excess strain, from pushing a little too hard on the John to lifting heavy boxes, can cause a sudden increase in pressure in the blood vessels around your rectum, leading to hemorrhoids. Still, a sedentary life puts you at risk for a host of other health problems, like diabetes and memory loss, and weight training has been proved to decrease risk of heart disease and stroke and to keep you feeling balanced well into your golden years. So hit the gym, but remember to keep breathing regularly while you lift weights to relieve some of the pressure you’re putting on your hindquarters.
Go When You Gotta
If you’ve been paying attention, you already know constipation is a big risk factor for the development of hemorrhoids. But eating more fiber and drinking more water aren’t the only ways to keep your bowels moving. It’s also important to go when you’ve got the urge. While it’s good to be able to hold it in until you can find a toilet, holding your poo for too long can make it go hard and dry inside your bowels, according to Cleveland Clinic. This is because your intestines leach water from stool, and if it sits there long enough, poop shrivels and is harder to push out.
Foods to Avoid with Hemorrhoids
This article was published on January 23, 2014, and was last updated on May 1st, 2019 in Hemorrhoid Banding.
Hemorrhoids are formed when too much pressure is put on rectal veins – causing them to swell. Hemorrhoid symptoms can range from mild itching to extreme pain during bowel movements. The good news is, in some cases, a simple lifestyle change or two can decrease symptoms and make it possible for you to get on with your day – without the nagging itch or pain. While the only way to get rid of hemorrhoids for good is with a treatment like CRH O’Regan, you can still limit hemorrhoid symptoms by simply watching what you eat.
In many instances, the initial pressure to the rectal area comes from a feeling of constipation and the need to “push.” Therefore, many doctors will treat the constipation in hopes of controlling the symptoms.
Temporarily Soothe Hemorrhoid Symptoms by Avoiding These Symptoms
- Foods Low in Fiber
- Since fiber softens your stool and makes it easier to pass, not enough fiber in your diet can make hemorrhoid symptoms worse. Refined grains such as white bread, white rice, and cookies or cakes you buy at the store have been stripped of their bran component and are very low in fiber. Hemorrhoid sufferers may also want to limit consumption of low-fiber foods such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Instead, choose whole grain foods like whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, and brown rice – and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables with the skin. Doctors agree that simply switching to foods with more fiber can have a positive impact on your hemorrhoid symptoms.
- Alcohol and Caffeine
- If you’re trying to manage hemorrhoid symptoms, avoid alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates your body and dehydration can cause you to strain during bowel movements. Avoid other drinks that dehydrate your body, as well, such as coffee, energy drinks, or any beverage containing caffeine. If you do find yourself having a cup of coffee or a cocktail with dinner, follow it with a big glass of water to stay as hydrated as possible.
- Spicy Foods
- Spicy foods, or any other food you know will cause diarrhea or constipation, should be avoided. Even if you are usually able to handle food with a kick, sometimes it pays to stick with more mild foods just in case. A bad case of diarrhea can really set you back and make hemorrhoid symptoms worse.
Permanently Treat Hemorrhoids with the CRH O’Regan Hemorrhoid Banding System
Being mindful of your diet can really have a positive impact on your hemorrhoid symptoms, but often the only way to get rid of them fully is with a treatment like the CRH O’Regan System. For more information about reducing hemorrhoid symptoms and a complete list of foods to avoid with hemorrhoids, contact your physician.