Many people experience hemorrhoid symptoms, including itching and pain in or around the rectal area. Hemorrhoids are prevalent in people who sit for long periods, strain during bowel movements, or have diarrhea. Fortunately, hemorrhoids can be treated with over-the-counter creams and suppositories or more advanced approaches like surgery. Changing certain lifestyle behaviors can help with symptoms.
Talk to Your Healthcare Provider
Hemorrhoids are a common problem and can be uncomfortable or even painful. Talking to your doctor can help you get the relief you need.
Your healthcare provider will likely refer you to a specialist, such as a gastroenterologist or a colon and rectal surgeon, for a more specialized hemorrhoids treatment plan. Tell your healthcare provider about any symptoms and how long you have had them.
Hemorrhoid symptoms include itching in the rectal area, pain during bowel movements, bright red blood on toilet paper or in the toilet, and hard lumps in the anal area. Hemorrhoids are also common during pregnancy when the enlarged uterus can put pressure on blood vessels.
Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes or over-the-counter treatments to relieve hemorrhoid symptoms. These include sitz baths, where you sit in the bathtub for a few minutes several times a day or after each bowel movement to take pressure off irritated veins.
Change Your Diet
Getting hemorrhoids is normal, but most people don’t know what to do about it until symptoms get out of control. Hemorrhoids are caused by increased pressure on the veins in your anus and rectum. Several risk factors for hemorrhoids include constipation, sitting for long periods, and straining during a bowel movement. You can help prevent and manage hemorrhoids by gradually increasing your fiber intake. This can help you have more regular bowel movements and soften hard stools. You can also try a sitz bath, which is a small plastic tub designed to fit over your toilet seat for you to soak the anal area, or take warm, soothing baths and add Epsom salt to reduce irritation. It is also important to drink plenty of water, which can help keep your stool hydrated and loosen it up.
Take Regular Bathroom Breaks
Hemorrhoids develop due to increased pressure on the pelvic floor. This often happens from straining during bowel movements, sitting on the toilet for long periods, and pregnancy. Hemorrhoids can also be caused by chronic constipation, diarrhea, and weight gain.
Taking frequent bathroom breaks helps keep stool soft and easy to pass, which in turn helps alleviate discomfort. You should aim for at least a few bathroom trips daily and avoid sitting on the toilet for extended periods.
Eating a diet high in fiber helps soften stool and makes it easier to pass. Fiber-rich foods include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Exercise keeps waste moving through the digestive tract, which reduces constipation and hemorrhoid risk. You should avoid exercises that increase pressure, such as sit-ups and weight lifting, but low-impact activities like walking, swimming, or yoga can help. Talk to your doctor about the best type of exercise for you.
Exercise is one of the best things you can do to improve your health. Regular cardiovascular exercises, like walking, swimming, and running, help you burn calories, lower your cholesterol, and stimulate the release of feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins. Exercise can also help heal hemorrhoids by promoting healthy blood flow to the anal area and reducing the swelling of unhealthy hemorrhoidal veins that can lead to itching and burning sensations.
Hemorrhoids are most commonly caused by increased pressure on the rectal area, which can come from factors such as straining during bowel movements, constipation, pregnancy, and age-related weakening of the pelvic floor and anal muscles. Regular exercise, like Kegel exercises and squats, can help reduce the risk of developing hemorrhoids by strengthening these muscles and increasing circulation to the anal area. Exercise can also help prevent existing hemorrhoids from recurring by limiting pressure on the anal area. However, some types of exercise can worsen pain and itching in the anal area.