Living with Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids are inflamed veins around the anus or the lower rectum. They are common in both men and women. The symptoms include intense pain while passing stools, itching, and bleeding. In some instances, they may protrude into the anal canal. The exact cause of hemorrhoids is not known. However, there are several factors that increase the risk of developing them. Ageing, heredity, chronic constipation, or pregnancy is to blame in majority of the individuals affected by hemorrhoids.
While most people will get hemorrhoids at some point in their lives, some are at a higher risk due to genetic factors and will experience the problem more than a few times. Hemorrhoids are easily diagnosed, and with proper care, they can be cured just as easily. Proper care is the key point, because without it the symptoms can only get worse. Learning how to live with hemorrhoids, therefore, becomes very important.
The following is some of the ways in which proper care of hemorrhoids is taken:
An effective way to relieve pain and irritation is to keep the area clean. Always use soft, clean toilet paper or wipes to clean the area after every bowel movement. Wash the area regularly to keep it clean and free of irritants. During a bath, avoid using soap on the affected area as it can make the skin dry and itchy. Using plain warm water during a bath is always the best. Afterwards, do not dry off the area completely. You can use cotton wool to wipe it gently before applying petroleum jelly to retain the moisture in the area. Over-the-counter creams can be used to relieve symptoms. Over–scrubbing or use of harsh products should be avoided.
Soaking the affected area in warm salty water provides instant relief and keeps irritants at bay. You can use your bath tub or any shallow tub with warm water or buy a “sitz bath” tub which can be placed over the toilet seat for this purpose. Fill a tub with lukewarm water, add a small quantity of Epsom salt to it and sit in it for 10 to 15 minutes. This can be repeated twice or thrice in a day for maximum benefits.
Using ice on the affected area works to reduce the pain and itching. It also helps to reduce the hemorrhoids themselves by constricting blood vessels within them.
Wrap some ice in a clean towel and apply it directly onto the area for a few minutes about twice a day. This provides temporary relief right before visiting the toilet to make the experience less unpleasant.
Choose Toiletries Carefully
Avoid using dry toilet paper as this can scratch the affected area and inflame the hemorrhoids. Wet wipes or bidet are a better option as they are gentle on the sensitive skin of the affected area. Avoid scented toilet paper, as some of these may have irritant chemicals that only add to the problem. Medicated pads or wipes made especially for this purpose are now easily available at medical stores.
Constipation may actually be the cause of hemorrhoids. Therefore, you should take measures to ensure your stool is loose. Increase your fluid intake; caffeine, alcohol, and artificially sweetened drinks should be avoided because they dehydrate the body cells.
Incorporate suitable changes in your diet after consulting a doctor. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and cereals all have a high fiber content which makes your stool easier to pass. Keeping your body hydrated will help with constipation and decrease the risk of aggravating the affected area.
Natural Remedies and Medication
Various creams and gels can be bought at a local pharmacy that may help reduce the pain and itchiness. However, these do not cure the hemorrhoids, and you are not advised to use them for more than 2 weeks because of their side effects. In cases where the hemorrhoids last for long periods, natural remedies like apple cider vinegar, witch hazel, and tea tree oil can work. These natural remedies do not have the negative side effects of medical creams and are at times even more effective.
The best strategy above all to control the hemorrhoids is to adopt changes in your lifestyle under the guidance of a trained medical practitioner. These simple tips and tricks can keep you free from recurrent attacks.
- Hydration. Regular intake of water will help your stool become softer and easier to pass. This reduces the strain on the blood vessels in the rectal area preventing flare-ups.
- Fiber-Rich Foods. Adding fiber to your diet is the single most important thing you can do to relive constipation. At least 30 grams of fiber should be included in your daily diet for improving digestion. Dietary supplements that provide additional fiber to the body are also recommended by some doctors. The goal here is to maintain a smooth bowel movement.
- Go as soon as you feel the need. Do not hold it in if you don’t have to. Any time you have the urge to use the toilet you must relive yourself immediately to avoid unnecessary strain on the muscles of the anal canal.
- Don’t sit too long on the toilet seat. Sitting on the toilet for long periods exerts too much pressure on the blood vessels around the anus. So avoid reading or using your phone on the toilet seat.
- Raising your feet. while using the toilet, you can place a small stool below your feet to raise their level. This position reduces the pressure on the rectal muscles cutting down the chances of inflammation of vein in the region.
- Don’t sit or stand for too long. You should avoid sitting or standing in the same position for too long. Take short, frequent breaks to reduce exertion and also to improve circulation in the anal region.
- Don’t strain too much. If you are feeling constipated, it is best to avoid straining too much as this strains the rectal muscles and may cause a flare-up
- Exercise and yoga. Regular exercise and yoga can also have substantial benefits. They keep all the organs of the body, including the intestines, in a healthy state. Besides relieving constipation, exercise can help to keep your weight under check. Excessive weight is also one of the factors that increase the risk of hemorrhoids.