If you’re stressed every time you need to park it on the porcelain throne, you aren’t alone! Call them piles, hemorrhoids, or just a (literal) pain in the behind, by the time you turn 50, more than half of your peers will have experienced them at least once in their lives. From itching, burning to bleeding at the back, three out of four adults endure the misery of hemorrhoids every day! But what causes this unbearable pain in the bum? Shockingly, many of our daily habits can cause them! Let’s check them out!
But What Exactly is Hemorrhoid?
Hemorrhoids are sometimes described as varicose veins in the lower part of the rectum or anus. They can be internal or external. Internal hemorrhoids are swollen veins that develop inside the rectum. External hemorrhoids are swollen veins under the skin around the anus.
This misery begins with a small “defect” in the human anatomy – the anal canal that is too tight to allow large, hard stools to pass. When these abnormal stools get stuck inside the colon or rectum, you have no choice but to burn out, gradually causing hemorrhoidal disease, anal fissures, and other complications. You may experience different symptoms depending on the location of your hemorrhoids.
Although hemorrhoids are rarely dangerous, they can be a recurring and painful intrusion. Fortunately, many things can be done about it – it all starts with the little things in our daily lives!
You’re Sitting on the Toilet…Forever
When thinking about the causes of hemorrhoids, think about when it’s time to go to the bathroom. Of course, it’s nice to hang out with your smartphone in the toilet – it’s so quiet and relaxing there! However, if you sit on an open toilet bowl for too long, gravity will put excessive stress on those veins. Take as much time as you need to go, but once you’re done, flush, and get out. Are you taking too much time in the toilet? Here’s how to turn things around when you’re constipated.
You’re Lifting Heavy Objects
You may think it’s harmless to grab a piece of the couch while you’re moving around. But you might get too attached to it. This increases the pressure in the rectum, causing the veins (called hemorrhoidal plexus) to swell up like a balloon! Unfortunately, there is no sure way to completely avoid this phenomenon. Lifting correctly – you know, with your knees, not your back – can help.
You Skipped the Gym…Again
Everyone knows that being active is an essential part of maintaining a healthy weight. But did you know that it can also reduce your risk of getting hemorrhoids?
Regular exercise-more than 30 minutes a day of aerobic exercise-helps improve bowel function. But that’s not the only reason! A study published in the International Journal of Colorectal Disease found a link between BMI (body mass index) and hemorrhoids. For every point of increase in BMI, adults had a 3.5% higher risk of suffering from hemorrhoids. This is because excess weight puts extra pressure on the anal area. This is one more reason to move your body for the recommended 150 minutes a week.
Growing a tiny human is a beautiful—but often not-so-glamorous—process. Pregnancy causes strains, believed to be due to increased intra-abdominal pressure in the uterus and the expanding fetus. This can be very uncomfortable for pregnant women. Many continue to have hemorrhoids after delivery.
Almost 41% of pregnant women get hemorrhoids. They are especially common in the last trimester and one month after delivery. Traditional treatments, such as eating more fiber, staying hydrated, and taking stool softeners, can help expectant mothers.
Your Diet Isn’t That Healthy
If you are overeating fast food or relying on packaged snacks to fill your day, you may not be getting enough fiber. The nutrients you need help to strengthen and soften your stool so it can pass through your digestive tract smoothly.
You Have Diarrhea
One of the most common hemorrhoid causes is going too often. You’d think the result would be just the opposite. But pooping multiple times a day means you spend a lot of time on the toilet, possibly bearing down and straining. The fix is to address the underlying reason behind your diarrhea. It may be viral (like the flu), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), medications, or foodborne illness. Or you just need to tweak your diet. Be sure to avoid these fiber mistakes that can bother your belly.
You Simply Can’t Go
If you go number two fewer than three times a week, you’re probably constipated. And the associated straining over lumpy, hard stools causes the anal cushions that support these veins to become stretched, leading the hemorrhoidal veins to dilate and possibly lead to symptoms. Exercising, eating enough fiber, and sipping enough water to address thirst are all lifestyle tweaks you can make to get more regular!
The important thing to remember here is that you’re not alone. As many as 1 in 20 Americans deal with hemorrhoids! And up to 50% of those over the age of 50 will encounter them. Patients should also keep in mind that not all hemorrhoids are the same and may not always present with the same symptoms. In fact, there are four distinct types of hemorrhoids, and determining which you have is key to finding safe, effective relief.