Like varicose veins on your legs, hemorrhoids form in and around your anus. They can occur deep inside your rectum where you can’t see them, or they can appear at the opening of your anus, where they look like a cluster of grapes.
Hemorrhoids aren’t necessarily a serious medical problem, but they can cause some serious discomfort, including itching, burning, bleeding, and pain. Anything that strains your pelvic floor, including constipation and childbirth, can lead to hemorrhoids.
Occasional flare-ups typically respond to over-the-counter creams and ointments that reduce the inflammation and shrink the veins. A sitz bath may also ease your discomfort. But when these remedies don’t do the trick, it’s time to seek professional help.
Dr. Darrien Gaston and our team here at Metropolitan Gastroenterology Consultants in Chicago, Illinois, offer a quick and effective solution to your hemorrhoid problem. Using the CRH O’Regan System®, he chokes off the blood supply to your hemorrhoids with a tiny rubber band. In a few days, it dies and falls off. The procedure only takes about a minute and is virtually painless, unlike other banding techniques.
Severe hemorrhoids may require surgical removal, but that’s a last resort. Here are some ways you can lower your risk of suffering from a hemorrhoid flare-up.
1. Don’t hold it
When you feel the urge to have a bowel movement, don’t hold it. When you wait to go, your stool hardens and becomes drier, which makes it hard to pass. When you strain to pass your stool, it applies intense pressure on all the muscles and veins in your pelvic floor, resulting in bulging hemorrhoids.
The same advice goes for those times when you don’t have to go. Your body knows when it’s time for a bowel movement and when it’s not. Don’t try to force the process.
2. Eat more fiber
The best stools are not too hard and not too soft. The consistency can tell you a lot about your health and your diet. If you suffer from constipation and hemorrhoids, one of the main culprits may be a lack of fiber in your diet.
Try adding more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your meals. And drink plenty of water to keep your system lubricated. Too much fiber and not enough water equals hard stools.
3. Exercise more
Exercise benefits your entire body and overall health, including your digestive system. All your body’s systems become sluggish when you’re sedentary, which means your bowels slow down, too.
Moderate exercise can perk up your bowels and keep waste moving through and out. But choose your type of exercise carefully. Activities that strain your pelvic floor — think squats with heavy weights — can exacerbate the problem.
4. Get in and out of the bathroom
Simply sitting puts strain on your anal blood vessels, which is why it’s uncomfortable to sit when you have hemorrhoids.
If you treat your bathroom experience as a time to flip through a magazine, read a book, or check your social media feed, you’re spending way too much time in there and making your hemorrhoids worse. Just do your business and get out.
5. Lift your legs
The average toilet puts your body in a position that may make it hard to empty your bowels. You may find it easier to eliminate if you elevate your knees slightly. Try placing a short stool under your feet when it’s time to go. This straightens your rectum and gives excrement an easier exit path.
6. Strengthen your pelvic floor
We’ve referred to your pelvic floor several times because it is a critical component in your bowel movements. When it’s weak, your pelvic floor — a sling-like group of muscles that supports your bladder and rectum — fails to function properly and can lead to loss of bladder and bowel control.
You can bolster your pelvic floor by doing Kegel exercises regularly. Dr. Gaston can give you some pointers.
It’s possible to ward off hemorrhoids or at least decrease their frequency and severity, but if you find that yours are stubborn and won’t respond to these strategies, come see Dr. Gaston for quick and lasting relief. Schedule an appointment online or call us today.