Several simple lifestyle changes can help prevent hemorrhoids. One of the most effective ways to prevent hemorrhoids is to avoid constipation and straining during bowel movements.
Prevention of Hemorrhoids
Eating a diet that is high in fiber can help prevent constipation. Foods that contain dietary fiber (also called roughage) include whole grains, fresh or dried fruits, beans, and vegetables. Foods that are high in fiber include the following:
- Whole grain breakfast cereals
- Brown rice
- Breads made with 100% whole grains
Fiber supplements are also available. Types of fiber supplements include psyllium (e.g., Metamucil, Fiberall, Hydrocil, Konsyl, Perdiem, Serutan), methylcellulose (e.g., Citrucel), and calcium polycarbophil (e.g., Fibercon, Fiber-Lax, Equalactin, Mitrolan). Each of these fiber supplements has different properties and side effects. For more information about dietary fiber to reduce the risk for hemorrhoids, ask a qualified health care provider, registered dietician, or nutritionist.
Exercise also can help prevent constipation by decreasing the amount of time it takes for food to move through the digestive tract and reducing the amount of water that is absorbed from the stool. Physical activity (e.g., walking as few as 10–15 minutes several times each day) can help improve digestion. Contact a physician before starting any exercise program.
Other ways to help avoid constipation include the following:
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
- Avoid excessive alcohol.
- Change position at least once every hour when sitting or standing for long periods of time.
Keeping the anal area clean can help reduce hemorrhoid symptoms. Use unscented, white toilet tissue (dyes and perfumes can cause irritation) or unscented, pre-moistened wipes. After bathing or showering, dry the area gently and thoroughly.
During pregnancy and childbirth, performing simple exercises can strengthen pelvic floor muscles (muscles that contract to interrupt the flow of urine) and help prevent hemorrhoids. Kegel exercises involve contracting the pelvic floor muscles for a few seconds and then relaxing these muscles for a few seconds. Begin by doing 3 sets of 10 contractions, holding the contraction for 3 seconds and releasing for 3 seconds. Each day, add 1 second to the contraction and release time—up to 10 seconds.
Basic Steps to Preventing Hemorrhoids
The vast majority of hemorrhoids are primarily caused by just a few different factors. If you prevent these five most common causes, then the vast majority of hemorrhoids cases will vanish. Even if controlling these five hemorrhoids causes isn’t enough to completely prevent hemorrhoids, it will make them that much easier to cure.
The Five Steps to Preventing Hemorrhoids:
The five main causes of hemorrhoids, when controlled, will certainly prevent hemorrhoids developing in many, many people.
- Help prevent hemorrhoids by sitting on the toilet with your feet raised onto the balls (NOT heels) of the feet and on the toes, resting your elbows on the knees.
- Help prevent hemorrhoids by controlling constipation. If you cant achieve this with dietary changes, then experiment with 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of Epsom Salts in a glass ot two of water and drink it all down – increase the dose of Epsom Salts if constipation remains, reduce it if diarrhea occurs – but it is something you would have to take every day of your life.
- Help prevent hemorrhoids by wiping the anus more softly and gently, with a soft wet cloth or soft toilet tissue, baby wipe etc – the harder and longer you wipe, the more likely you are to cause hemroids to develop.
- Help prevent hemorrhoids by NOT lifting and carrying heavy things – doing so can also strain the anal region giving rise to hemroids.
- You can help prevent hemorrhoids by avoiding the use of the back passage for adult activities.
These 5 areas and others are covered in greater detail along with some preventative tips and actions you can take on the hemroid causes page.
To understand how to prevent hemroids a bit more indepth, understand that a hemroid is a symptom of a greater weakened area of blood vessels. So pressurising or straining the area will often give rise to new or bigger hemroids.
Also, the hemroid can be viewed as originating from the weakest spot in the weakened area. Hence removing a hemroid, does not solve all your problems, as the weakened area is still there and can easily give rise to a new hemroid if stressed or strained. There are some at home treatments for hemorrhoids that can re-strengthen the blood veins in the bottom area.
Hemorrhoids Prevention in Detail
Hemorrhoids prevention is something that many people don’t even have to think about.
The vast majority of people have never suffered from hemorrhoids, so nobody really thinks about hemorrhoids prevention until they’ve had a problem to begin with.
However, once you’ve suffered through a bout of hemorrhoids, prevention does tend to occupy the mind thereafter.
Happily, for most people hemorrhoids prevention is rather simple.
While genetic factors do play a role in hemorrhoid susceptibility, lifestyle choices play a far bigger role in hemorrhoid development, and thus in preparing a hemorrhoids prevention program.
However, there are a few diseases and health conditions that make hemorrhoids prevention less achievable – such as Crohn’s disease, hypertension, poorly managed diabetes and pregnancy. If you currently have one of these problems and suffer from hemorrhoids, the hemorrhoid problem may not entirely go away until the underlying condition is resolved, and, of course, preventing hemorrhoids may not be fully possible.
Even so, hemorrhoids prevention techniques can help reduce the misery and suffering while working on other health problems.
Lifestyle Methods for Hemorrhoids Prevention
The first step in any hemorrhoids prevention plan is to take a good, long look at your diet.
Almost all hemorrhoids problems are caused by constipation or diarrhea, both of which can be treated by a healthy diet that includes enough dietary fiber and water every day. For hemorrhoids prevention, the average person needs to eat between 25 and 35 grams of dietary fiber every day in order to keep the gastrointestinal tract in good working order.
A healthy diet, like everything else to do with human health, represents a balancing act.
Don’t go eating more than 35 grams per day unless a doctor specifically tells you to. Too much fiber will make you bloated, gassy, nauseous and absolutely miserable. Too much also works against hemorrhoids prevention, as the feces can become hard and small requiring many trips to the toilet to completely evacuate the bowel.
Also, when adding fiber to your diet, you should increase the amount you ingest slowly and drink enough water along with it. Going from very little fiber to the full amount in one day will also make you miserable, while eating more fiber without enough water will create concrete in your intestines. Needless to say, concrete bowel movements will not make your hemorrhoids any better, and it is certainly counterproductive to preventing hemorrhoids.
Of course, the hemorrhoids prevention benefits of a healthy diet go beyond the consistency of bowel movements. A properly balanced diet will help reduce blood pressure, give your cardiovascular system the nutrients it needs to stay in proper tone, feed your muscles properly so they can support the hemorrhoidal veins in your pelvis and grant you the energy to pursue an active lifestyle that gets the blood moving as it should.
Exercises for hemorrhoid prevention
A decent amount of exercise is another key point in hemorrhoids prevention.
Sedentary occupations, such as secretarial work or truck driving, have you sitting down for the vast majority of your days. So much sitting makes any tendency towards hemorrhoids even worse.
Therefore, it’s important to get up and walk around briskly at least every two hours, preferably for five to ten minutes. The brisk walk will help you concentrate on your work more while getting the blood out of hemorrhoidal veins and back into circulation where it belongs.
Most people need a minimum of three half-hour sessions of exercise per week for both hemorrhoids prevention and general health. This should be a bit more intensive than your daily five minute walks because the purpose is to really get your system working.
A proper exercise program that’s suited to your health and circumstances will kick your metabolism into gear, reduce your stress, give you more energy, get your blood moving and reduce weight, all important points in any hemorrhoids prevention plan.
Stress reduction for hemorrhoids prevention
Of course, the last common reason for hemorrhoids is stress, therefore reducing stress is also important in hemorrhoids prevention.
Hemorrhoids are caused by downwards pressure from the abdomen pushing far too much blood into the hemorrhoidal veins around the anal sphincter. Stress causes stomach clenching, higher blood pressure and all sorts of unpleasant systemic effects.
If you can find some way to reduce your stress on a daily basis, such as meditation, a pleasant treat on your breaks or cutting back on unnecessary demands, it will go a long way towards hemorrhoids prevention.
Mechanical Methods for Hemorrhoids Prevention
If you find that you’re prone to hemorrhoids, lifestyle changes may not work fast enough in preventing hemorrhoids. There are quite a few mechanical things you can do to make hemorrhoids less likely to strike in the future, none of which have to cost a fortune.
The first mechanical thing you can do for hemorrhoids prevention is to get a footstool to place under your feet while sitting on the toilet. Toileting with your feet on the floor takes away all the muscular support from the muscles of your pelvic floor, which basically leaves your hemorrhoidal veins at gravity’s mercy. By putting a stool under your feet, you automatically support yourself with the muscles in your pelvis – a great hemorrhoids prevention strategy that you sometimes find posted up in hospitals toilets!
Of course, this isn’t carte blanche to sit on the toilet forever and a day. The best hemorrhoids prevention plan in the world won’t help if you keep your anal area hanging out over empty space for long periods of time.
You should keep your time on the toilet only to when you’re actually having a bowel movement. If it doesn’t happen in five minutes, clean up, get off, and walk around for a bit. You’ll either be able to go or you can go back to your day in peace.
Get soft, plain white toilet paper, and don’t wipe harshly with it. If you feel the need to be cleaner than dry toilet paper can get you, moisten it a bit with water and wipe gently instead of scrubbing at yourself. Keep harsh dyes, perfumes and synthetic materials away from your delicate bits as much as possible, even if this means switching your laundry detergent and wearing plain cotton underwear. Please note that plain cotton underwear does not have to mean granny underwear, as many companies are producing attractive lingerie in comfortable cotton these days.
Pharmaceutical Methods for Hemorrhoids Prevention
Unfortunately there are far more mainstream medications for hemorrhoids relief than there are for hemorrhoids prevention.
Most of what you can get in a pharmacy, either over the counter or by doctor’s prescription, will only help when you’re currently suffering from hemorrhoids. Do not, and I repeat, do not use hemorrhoid creams or ointments if you don’t currently have hemorrhoids.
In most cases you’re just wasting your money, but if the cream contains hydrocortisone or vasoconstrictors you’ll sabotage your hemorrhoids prevention with them. Vasoconstrictors make the veins smaller, increasing blood pressure and the likelihood that one of the veins will give way under that pressure. Hydrocortisone thins out muscle tissue over time, again making hemorrhoids more likely.
Mainstream hemorrhoids medications are only meant to treat current hemorrhoids, not for long term hemorrhoids prevention.
Herbal and dietary supplements, on the other hand, do offer some decent hemorrhoids prevention possibilities.
Butcher’s broom and horse chestnut are great for hemorrhoids prevention also, and both are used to help underlying poor circulation issues, though they shouldn’t be taken by people with high blood pressure, benign prostatic hyperplasia, people taking alpha blockers, MAO inhibitors, or blood thinners and pregnant or nursing women. Nor should you take these herbs if you’re allergic to them. You’d think that last bit shouldn’t need saying, but unfortunately it does.
Good dietary supplements for hemorrhoids prevention includes both bioflavonoids and antioxidants. Bioflavonoids are chemical compounds found in highly flavored fruits such as citrus, blueberries and cranberries. Antioxidants are found in many healthy foods, including green tea, blueberries and so on. While you can get them in capsule form, it’s often better (and more fun) to just include foods rich with them in your diet.
Hemorrhoids Prevention Conclusion
Hemorrhoids prevention is something that anyone who’s suffered from hemorrhoids in the past will pay attention to.
There’s nothing quite like the pain, fear, itching, burning, embarrassment and general misery that a hemorrhoid can cause to impress the need for hemorrhoids prevention on the mind forevermore.
However, it doesn’t have to eliminate your pleasures in life nor do you have to eat only rabbit food from now on.
In fact, by pursuing the healthy lifestyle that a full hemorrhoids prevention plan will enforce, you’ll find that you look better, feel better and have more energy besides.
Preventing Hemorrhoids in the First Place Is the Goal
Hemorrhoids are most often the result of straining due to constipation.
Constipation is frequently caused by improper diet, lack of exercise, inadequate intake of water, and stress. Other contributors include laxative abuse, irritable bowel syndrome, and hypothyroidism.
These simple steps can help prevent constipation:
- Eat fiber-rich foods. Vegetables are great sources of fiber. Ideally you’ll want to eat those recommended for your individual nutritional type. Consuming a wide variety of vegetable fiber will provide the bulk needed for your stool to pass comfortably through your intestines. If you need extra fiber, I suggest whole organic flaxseeds. Grind them in a coffee grinder and add one or two tablespoons to your food. You can also try organic psyllium, which helps alleviate both constipation and diarrhea. I recommend avoiding any type of non-organic psyllium, such as Metamucil. Proceed slowly if you’re not used to getting much fiber in your diet, as you may experience some bloating and gas as your digestive system gets accustomed to the added fiber.
- Consider eating fresh oranges for the flavonoids they contain. Flavonoids are powerful phytochemicals which promote the health of your veins. You might also consider adding coconut oil to your diet. South Pacific tropical islanders are known to consume at least half the fat in their diets from coconuts, with the result that many typical Western illnesses and conditions, including hemorrhoids, are uncommon. My personal recommendation is pure virgin coconut oil.
- Drink plenty of pure water – either clean spring water or water filtered by reverse osmosis. Use your thirst and the color of your urine as guides for whether you’re adequately hydrated. Your urine should be a light yellow color. If it is dark yellow, you’re likely not drinking enough water. (A bright yellow color is usually the result of vitamin B2, found in most multi-vitamins.) Adequate fiber and water create softer stools. A softer stool moves more easily through your colon and lessens the need for straining.
- Exercise regularly to keep your digestive tract stimulated.
- Take a high-quality probiotic. Balancing your gut bacteria will not only help your constipation, but your overall health as well.
- Get control of your emotional stress. I highly recommend tools such as Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to help alleviate emotional stressors which contribute to constipation. It can also help you reduce and eliminate painful symptoms ofhemorrhoid flare-ups.
Another option few people are aware of is using a squat toilet. I went to India last year and, interestingly, many places do not have regular toilets but just a hole in the floor. When you use a toilet like that, your body will be in the position it was designed to be in when you’re having a bowel movement.
When you sit on a regular toilet, you lose a lot of the force that helps with elimination. Now, I’m not suggesting you cut a hole in your bathroom floor; there are other devices you can put around your toilet that will somewhat simulate that squatting position, to help you eliminate with greater ease.
Practice Good Toilet Habits
- Allow your body to work naturally by using the toilet whenever you feel the urge to have a bowel movement. Go as soon as you feel the need – delaying can cause or aggravate constipation.
- Don’t sit on the toilet for prolonged periods. This increases pressure on your rectum, which is exactly what you don’t want do. Limit time on the toilet to three to five minutes per sitting. If necessary, get up, walk around or otherwise distract yourself, and wait for the urge to return before returning to the toilet. You can also use a small footstool while seated on the toilet to elevate your legs and relieve pressure on swollen tissue.
- Don’t strain excessively to have a bowel movement. Exert gentle pressure only, for no more than 30 seconds per attempt, focus on using your abdominal and pelvic muscles.
- Use a squatting position. Hemorrhoids are rarely seen in countries where people squat for bodily functions. Results of a study published in the late 1980’s showed 18 out of 20 hemorrhoid patients had complete and sustained relief from pain and bleeding with use of a squat toilet.
Use Proper Cleaning and Wiping Practice
- Don’t aggressively rub the area with toilet paper or other types of wipes, as this will further irritate and inflame your skin.
- If possible, clean the area in a bath or shower without using soap – soap is an irritant. Make sure to rinse the area well, andgently pat dry with a soft towel.
- In situations where bathing isn’t possible, use a disposable moistened wipe in a slow and gentle motion.
At-Home Hemorrhoid Symptom Relief
- Butcher’s broom is an herbal extract you can use if you’re struggling with hemorrhoids. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and vasoconstrictor effects, and can help tighten and strengthen those veins. It’s used specifically to treat problems with veins; it helps strengthen the vein’s walls so they don’t dilate and expand when pressure is applied during a bowel movement.Other beneficial supplements include horse chestnut, bromelain, Japanese pagoda tree extract, and aloe vera extract.
- Try a sitz bath. A sitz bath involves immersing your hips and buttocks in warm water. The moist heat of the bath provides relief from symptoms and helps to heal inflamed tissue. Use warm, not hot water, and don’t add anything to it. Sit for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, as often as you like, to help relieve symptoms.
- Apply cold compresses or ice packs to your anal area on and off for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, up to five times per day.
- Keep your anal area dry, as moisture promotes irritation, itching, and infection of your skin.
- Apply a coating of petroleum jelly to your anal area to soothe irritated tissue. You can also apply aloe vera gel to relieve burning, or a topical astringent like witch hazel.
- After bowel movements, wipe with toilet paper, compresses, or cotton moistened with witch hazel (available in the pharmacy section of most stores).
In severe cases, it is sometimes necessary for hemorrhoids to be treated surgically or endoscopically. However, this should be done only as a last resort.
There are a number of techniques for medical hemorrhoid treatment, including:
- Rubber band ligation, in which a rubberized band is placed around the base of the hemorrhoid. The band cuts off blood flow to the hemorrhoid, causing it to die off and wither away within a few days.
- Sclerotherapy, which involves the injection of a chemical solution to shrink the hemorrhoid.
- Infrared coagulation (burning of the hemorrhoidal tissue).
- Hemorrhoidectomy — surgical removal of hemorrhoids.
Always strive to prevent a condition like hemorrhoids — so treatment isn’t necessary. Like most painful or irritating health conditions, hemorrhoids are a signal from your body to pay more attention to your diet, water consumption, physical exercise, emotional stress, or other lifestyle issues.