There is no singular cause for hemorrhoids. However, the most common cause of hemorrhoids – straining to force out a hardened stool – can be prevented. Prevention is always preferable to treatment, but if you already have hemorrhoids what can you do? Based on research and personal experience, you must do many of the same things to help hemorrhoids heal faster as you would to prevent them from developing in the first place. So, let’s start with preventative measures.
How to Handle Hard Stools
Hard, dry stools are a sure sign that you do not drink enough water. Resist the urge to strain and force out a hardened stool. Instead, relax, get off the toilette, drink a large glass of water (or two) and try again later.
Until that stool is successfully passed, you will likely feel ill at ease, but continuing to push on a hard, dry stool can cause hemorrhoids. It’s not always easy, but resisting the urge to force out a hardened stool can save you days or even weeks of pain and discomfort.
Based on research, experience and my conversations with hemorrhoid sufferers, the three best ways to prevent hemorrhoids are to…
- Stay hydrated
- Eat a diet rich in soluble and insoluble fiber, and
Dehydration is the enemy
Dehydration is a major factor in the cause of hemorrhoids. Lack of moisture in the bowels leads to hard, dry stools. Hard, dry stools lead to straining, and that can (and often does) lead to hemorrhoids.
“If in case you did not know yet, our stools are largely composed of water. Yes, in fact 75% of the feces is composed of water, while only 25% is attributed to solids. … When the body is depleted of water, the colon’s capacity for water reabsorption is enhanced. Normally, the colon removes about 90% of the fluid, converting approximately one to two liters of chyme that enters it into a semisolid fecal matter. However, this is increased further when dehydration ensues. As a result, the chyme temporarily stored in the colon loses a great deal of water, and therefore the stools lose a great amount of bulk. This results to slower passage of stools down the colon, and therefore constipation.”1
Note: Chyme is composed of gastric juices and partly digested food.
Drinking plenty of water is even more important if you sense that you are not completely emptying your bowels. A buildup can lead to fecal impaction (fecaloma) – a large mass of solidified feces in the rectum or colon. Fecal impaction will require manual disimpaction, which can be very unpleasant. To prevent this, it may be necessary to use a glycerin suppository to help you empty your bowels when a bowel movement feels incomplete. But you should always try water, and more water, first. If that fails the suppository should be the next step.
Foods that keep things moving
Eating a diet rich in soluble and insoluble fibers, and decreasing your consumption of processed foods will definitely improve bowel health and prevent hard, dry, hemorrhoid-causing stools from forming. Among the most delicious and readily good bowel health foods are…
- Butternut squash
- Sweet potatoes
- Prunes, raisins, and other dried fruits
I could go on because there are many more such foods. But it’s important to remember that if you don’t increase your water intake eating high-fiber foods will do you very little good. In fact, a high-fiber diet + low water intake = constipation.
How exercise helps prevent hemorrhoids
Research studies have demonstrated that exercising regularly can prevent hemorrhoids by improving blood flow and preventing constipation. Aerobic exercise, specifically, has been known to help ease constipation. Though it may be more truthful to say that the lack of exercise causes constipation.
“According to experts, exercise does more than tone your heart and other muscles. Exercise is essential for regular bowel movements. In fact, one of the key risk factors for constipation is inactivity.”2
Exercise decreases the time it takes waste to move through the large intestine, which also limits the amount of water absorbed from the stool into the body. For this reason, it’s best to wait at least one hour after a meal before exercising. Blood flow to the stomach and intestines increases after a meal, to help the body digest food. If you exercise right after eating, the blood will flow toward the heart and muscles instead.
While moderate exercise will help ensure that you avoid the heartbreak of hemorrhoids, strenuous exercises, such as cross-fit and weight lifting, can make hemorrhoids worse. Bodybuilders can attest to this fact, as many of them have developed life-long hemorrhoid issues as a result of straining to lift super heavyweights.
Also, if you’re new to exercise, start slow and build your endurance, especially if you already have hemorrhoids.
If the boat’s already sailed and you’re now struggling with the agony of hemorrhoids, at least you now know what to do to prevent a recurrence.
If you’re looking for faster relief try topical applications of vervain tea (decoction). Vervain is a very effective inflammation-fighting herb; it can reduce swelling, halt bleeding and neutralize the pain. Internally, it is also an excellent treatment for diarrhea and many more ailments. Read ‘Health Benefits of Vervain Herb’ to learn more about this amazing plant.
Another useful herb for hemorrhoids is coriander. Coriander tea can relieve constipation, making your road to healing faster and less painful. Read ‘Health Benefits of Coriander’ to learn more about that.
There’s also a vitamin that treats hemorrhoids and prevents their return: Vitamin B2, also known as Riboflavin. Several years ago, I wrote an article about riboflavin’s hemorrhoid healing benefits. You can check that out here. I plan to update and republish that article to this blog, at some point in the not-too-distant future. When I do, I will link it here.
If you have any questions or comments about hemorrhoids, comment below or contact me on Twitter or Google Plus. If you have tried these methods and got results, or didn’t get results, comment and let us know.
1 “Dehydration and Constipation”. Constipation Remedies, n.d. Web. April 2017
2 “Exercise to Ease Constipation”. WebMD, April 15, 2015. Web. April 2017
“Does Lack of Water Cause Hemorrhoids?” Nutrition Lessons, December 19, 2009. Web. April 2017
Mayo Clinic Staff. “Hemorrhoids Self-management”. Mayo Clinic, n.d. Web. April 2017