It starts with itching and irritation after using the bathroom, and you’re not sure what caused it or why you have it. It could have been something you ate, or it could have been that uncomfortable toilet seat you used the other day. But no matter what caused this pain, the fact is that hemorrhoids simply happen- especially if you’re pregnant or over the age of 50.
Additionally, the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse mentions that nearly 3 out of 4 people develop hemorrhoids at some point in their lives. But while these numbers make hemorrhoids seem like an inevitable part of life, the good news is that they’re actually easy to avoid. We’ll explain what causes hemorrhoids, as well as a few tips on how to deal with them when they develop.
What exactly are hemorrhoids?
To put it simply, a hemorrhoid is an inflammation of the veins in the lower rectum or near the anus. External hemorrhoids are those that occur near the anus, while internal hemorrhoids are those that occur in the lower rectum. Hemorrhoids often aren’t very severe at the onset, and few will notice them until symptoms become worse.
Symptoms of hemorrhoids include bleeding and minor irritation, and pain can become worse if a blood clot forms on an external hemorrhoid, or when an internal hemorrhoid extends through the anus. Severe symptoms can cause infection, and treating them requires medical attention.
How do hemorrhoids happen?
Hemorrhoids usually develop as a result of excessive straining when using the bathroom. When we strain, blood flow to and from the anus is disrupted, causing vessels to bulge and become inflamed. Additionally, the pressure of restraining a bowel movement, or the increased pressure caused by diarrhea or constipation can also lead to hemorrhoids.
Why nutrition matters
When you look at the common causes of hemorrhoids, the keys to avoiding them is all about keeping your digestive system happy with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. Since fiber helps move waste through the digestive system, you should increase your fiber intake if you often experience constipation. Some high-fiber foods include:
- Pears, apples, carrots, oranges
- Kale, collard greens, spinach
- Brown rice, whole wheat pasta, bulgur wheat
- Raisins, grapes, and prunes
Constipation also occurs when the body isn’t hydrated enough, so be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Unfortunately, too many sugary drinks or foods, like soda and baked sweets often have the reverse effect, so it’s always a good idea to avoid these foods and drinks entirely, or at least keep them to a minimum to reduce the likelihood of diarrhea.
More ways to avoid and treat hemorrhoids
If you notice any symptoms of hemorrhoids, it is always recommended to call your doctor. In the meantime though, try using a hemorrhoid cream to relieve irritation.
It’s important to keep in mind that elimination is a natural process, so when you use the bathroom, be sure to take your time, as straining only makes symptoms worse. Excessive wiping can also cause hemorrhoids, so one of the best ways to avoid hemorrhoids is by cutting back on toilet paper use with an at-home bidet.
At-home bidets come in all shapes and sizes, but few are as comforting and economical as the Brondell Swash 300 Toilet Seat Bidet. The Swash 300 attaches to your toilet seat, featuring a warm water wash that’s incredibly soothing for hemorrhoid suffers. It comes with two nozzles for posterior and feminine cleansing, and even includes a remote control that allows you to adjust the seat and water temperatures to your liking.