3 things you probably didn’t know about hemorrhoids

February 12, 2018 | by Sivakami Krishnan, MD
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Hemorrhoids are extremely common, yet the nature of this ailment means they’re not mentioned publicly often, and are therefore somewhat mysterious.

The AARP described them perfectly: “basically varicose veins of the tush.” You probably didn’t know that:

  • Hemorrhoids are most often caused by sitting too much and constipation. People also often get hemorrhoids during pregnancy and childbirth.
  • They’re extremely common. Half of all people have them by age 50, and 75 percent of us will have them at some point in our lives.
  • There are two different types of hemorrhoids: internal (which can cause bleeding), and external (which are near the anal opening and can itch and burn).

It sounds awful. But you don’t have to suffer. There are ways to get rid of the uncomfortable symptoms hemorrhoids can cause.

Harvard Medical School offers some tips to soothe the irritation of hemorrhoids:

  • Eat more fiber. Choose fiber-rich foods like beans, nuts and seeds, veggies (e.g., peas, artichokes), fruits (e.g., pears, raspberries) and oats.
  • Try internal lubrication. Mixing a tablespoon of mineral oil with applesauce or yogurt and eating it at breakfast or lunch allows stool to slide by the hemorrhoid more easily, but experts warn not to continue this for an extended period of time. (If you try this, you may want to place a liner in your undergarments to absorb any oil leakage.)
  • When you’ve gotta go, GO. When you feel the urge, go to the bathroom immediately; don’t wait for a more convenient time. Putting off bowel movements can worsen constipation, which then aggravates hemorrhoids.
  • Prop up your feet. Elevating your feet a bit with a step stool as you sit on the toilet changes the position of the rectum in a way that may allow for easier passage of stools.
  • Hit the drug store. Over-the-counter products are available for hemorrhoids, including witch hazel infused pads and creams, like Preparation H and its generic equivalents. If these don’t work, ask your doctor about prescription products.
  • Soak it. Sitz baths can help. Using a basin that fits under the toilet seat, try soaking the inflamed area in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes, two to three times a day.

Your doctor is your Healthy Driven partner! Find the right primary care doctor for you.

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