Hemorrhoids occur when the blood vessels that line the rectal area become swollen. Increased pressure over an extended period of time causes the swelling. Pregnancy, straining during a bowel movement, being overweight, or standing for long periods of time may contribute to an increase of pressure in the anal canal. Hemorrhoids can cause itching, burning, rectal bleeding and pain. Fortunately, most cases can be resolved with at-home treatments and future hemorrhoids can be prevented with lifestyle changes.
Having soft stools that pass easily is the best way to prevent hemorrhoids and relieve the symptoms of any existing hemorrhoids. To avoid putting pressure on your rectal area and prevent hemorrhoids, you can:
- Add fiber to your diet. Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains can prevent constipation and soften your stools. You can also take a fiber supplement if you are having trouble getting enough fiber in your diet.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Being properly hydrated is especially important if you’re adding fiber to your diet. Water ensures that your stools will be soft and easy to pass. If your urine is dark yellow instead of clear, you need to drink more fluids.
- Exercise at least two hours each week. Exercise can help you lose weight, which can reduce the pressure on your circulatory system. There are also immediate benefits of increasing your physical activity: exercise improves digestion and helps prevent constipation. Moving around also reduces the buildup of pressure caused by long periods of sitting or standing in the same position.
- Don’t wait to go to the bathroom. Go as soon as you feel the urge. If you don’t go to the bathroom right away and the urge passes, your stool can harden and will be more difficult to pass when you finally do go to the bathroom. Hard stool usually results in additional pushing and pressure during a bowel movement, which is believed to cause hemorrhoids.
- Don’t strain; relax and breathe normally. Allow yourself enough time to go to the bathroom. If you feel rushed, you may be more likely to strain and increase the pressure on your rectum.
- Do not sit for long periods of time on the toilet after you’re done going to the bathroom. Staying in the bathroom to read after you’ve finished having a bowel movement increases the pressure you put on your veins.
- Avoid prolonged sitting or standing. If your work requires you to sit at a desk or stand behind a counter, try to take short breaks to change positions. Stretch or go for a short walk.
To learn more about preventing hemorrhoids, speak with your colorectal specialist.