How to Prevent Hemorrhoids
Painful and annoying hemorrhoids can happen both inside and outside of your anus. They happen when the veins around the anus and rectum become swollen, and can happen for a number of reasons, such as chronic diarrhea or constipation, pregnancy, straining when having a bowel movement, long periods of sitting, genetics, obesity, and poor diet.
The following suggestions are intended to help prevent hemorrhoids before they start with simply changes to your lifestyle.
Make Small Additions to Your Diet
Constipation and its consequent straining are big cause of hemorrhoids; one way to reduce both by eating high fiber foods. Soluble fiber has the amazing ability to absorb water and swell--this gives your stool bulk, but also keeps it soft--allowing your body to pass it easily and comfortably. The recommended amount of fiber to consume to maintain a healthy stool is 25-30 grams a day.
To get more fiber incorporate more of these items into your diet:
- Fruit: apples, bananas, strawberries, oranges, and especially raspberries (8g fiber per cuo)
- Dark, leafy greens: swiss chard, kale, collard greens, spinach (it's a heavy-hitter at 7g fiber per cup), and especially artichokes, which are weigh in at 10 g of fiber per cup.
- Dark vegetables: Broccoli, carrots, beets
- Whole grains: oatmeal, brown rice, popcorn, whole wheat (sliced bread should have a minimum of 3g of fiber per serving). Avoid processed baked goods and bread that has been made with enriched flour.
- Beans and Legumes: Pinto, white, navy, and garbanzo beans are all high fiber, along with soybeans, lentils, and peas.
If you find it difficult to incorporate 25-30 grams of fiber to your daily diet, consider fiber supplements. You can find fiber supplements, as well as psyllium (another great form of fiber), in most grocery stores and health stores. As you increase your fiber intake, be sure to drink a lot of water through the day. Fiber can't create softer stools and reduce straining unless sufficient water is present.
Avoid These Bad Toilet Habits
Practicing good habits when you go to the bathroom are essential to prevent hemorrhoids. What should you avoid?
- Avoid holding in your stool. Holding stool in the bowel causes it to become hard and difficult to eliminate, so try to empty your bowels as soon as you get the urge. Passing stools on a regular basis reduces pressure and straining in the rectal area and thereby reduces the chance of causing a hemorrhoid.
- Don't strain! When having a bowel movement try to stay relaxed and work with your body’s natural processes. Exert mild pressure, and for no more than 30 seconds per attempt. Focus your energy on using your abdominal and pelvic muscles.
- Don't stay on the toilet any longer than you need to. Get off the toilet as soon as you’ve finished. Long periods of sitting for too long can compress the veins in and around the anus.
- Don’t aggressively rub your anus with toilet paper or other dry wipes. This kind of friction will further irritate your skin and lead to hemorrhoids or impede healing. When you wipe, use moistened toilet tissue or wipes and be gentle.
Though people may think that they must have a bowel movement every day this is not necessarily true for everyone. Typical bowel movements may occur from a few times a week up to several times a day. The trick is to go when you feel the urge and avoid straining.
Exercises to Prevent Hemorrhoids
Staying active will help prevent constipation and reduce pressure on your veins. When you move, your heart rate increases, which results in both your metabolism and digestive processes going and working well. This helps move your waste along in a timely manner.
Walking is a very easy, convenient, and helpful exercise for general health and to prevent hemorrhoids. Walking improves your digestion while also strengthening your pelvic muscles. If you suffer from joint pain or bad knees, try swimming. Swimming is a great way to full-body workout without putting unneeded pressure on injured joints.
Kegel exercises (for both men and women) are superb way to strengthen your pelvic floor. An easy way to try kegels is when you are urinating. First, start your urine flow and after a few seconds stop--it's the PC muscle in women, and the BC muscle in men, is what stops the flow of urine. Once you know what it feels like to use those muscles you can do kegel exercises anywhere. Sit in a relaxed position and tighten your PC or BC muscle, holding for the count of five, and then releasing for a count of five. Do 3 sessions of 15 kegel exercises daily to strengthen your pelvis and prevent hemorrhoids.
During a severe flare-up with anal bleeding try to restrict robust exercise until the bleeding subsides. When doing cardio, use an elliptical cross-trainer or other device that uses momentum to assist your movements.
The Magic of Squat Toilets
The idea of squatting instead of sitting on the toilet may seem unglamorous, but it is much healthier for your body. In fact, a study in the late 1980's showed that 18 out of 20 hemorrhoid patients had complete relief from pain and bleeding with the regular use of a squat toilet.
Hemorrhoids are rarely seen in countries where people squat for bowel movements. One of the changes brought about by western industrialization has been how people position themselves to defecate. It is just in the last couple centuries that the use of the pedestal toilet has become commonplace in Europe, the Americas, and a few other places.The traditional manner of squatting still remains the method used the majority of the world's population. There is something called the anorectal angle between the rectum and the anal canal, which occurs when you are sitting. This angle prevents you from completely eliminating fecal matter from your rectum--this can infect the colon and cause hemorrhoids. When you squat, this troublesome angle is partially straightened, reducing the pressure required for defecation and allowing you to pass your bowel movement undeterred.
You don't need to do a whole bathroom remodel to achieve this positioning. There are plenty of foot stools available online that will achieve the same "squat" effect. Or, if you already have a small footstool you can use that to elevate your legs and relieve pressure on swollen tissue.
These techniques are designed to prevent hemorrhoids; if you already have hemorrhoids, please see the article "Home-based hemorrhoid treatments" for natural and soothing methods of hemorrhoid healing.