Hemorrhoids, colloquially called piles, can be painful, itchy and annoying — but are generally not life-threatening. They are common enough that pretty much every adult is likely to experience hemorrhoids at least once during life. Symptoms, such as bleeding, may indicate a more serious condition, so it's best to consult your doctor about hemorrhoids. Once diagnosed, treatment is generally a combination of not making them worse, treating the symptoms and biding your time.
Everything You Need to Know About Hemorrhoids
Hemorrhoids occur when pressure is put on the blood vessels in and around your lower rectum and anus, explain the health experts at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. They appear as lumps either just inside your rectum or underneath the skin around the outside of your anus. This can cause you to experience itching and burning and can also cause the alarming sight of fresh blood on your bathroom tissue or in your toilet bowl after a bowel movement.
Not all rectal blood is caused by hemorrhoids, caution the health professionals at Washington University Physicians, so it is best to visit your doctor if this symptom occurs. Chances are you do have hemorrhoids, but it is always better to be safe than sorry.
If you are diagnosed with hemorrhoids, there is no cause for alarm. Hemorrhoids can visit people who have issues with constipation or straining, pregnant women, women who have just given birth, and people who are obese, do a lot of heavy lifting, have a family history of the condition or are between the ages of 45 and 65. In other words, nearly everyone.
While there is no guaranteed way to prevent hemorrhoids, there are changes you can make to your lifestyle that can help you avoid them, and certain foods may help lessen their severity.
Read more: Complications From Bleeding Hemorrhoids
Foods to Avoid With Hemorrhoids
The first thing to do if you are diagnosed with hemorrhoids or recognize their return is to avoid foods that may irritate them. The experts at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine advise you to avoid fatty offerings, such as fast-food burgers, and to cut your alcohol consumption to the bare minimum or cut it out of your diet altogether.
Spicy foods have no effect, either positive or negative, on hemorrhoids — but the capsaicin they contain can upset your stomach. This can lead to diarrhea, which might make your hemorrhoids feel much worse. You should also avoid dairy foods, such as ice cream and cheese. While some people believe that cheese curd is good for piles, this is a myth. Dairy foods may cause constipation, which will absolutely irritate hemorrhoids. Fatty meats and processed foods may have the same effect.
Read more: Spicy Foods and Bleeding Hemorrhoids
Foods That Can Help With Hemorrhoids
There are no exercises for hemorrhoids, and any exertion that involves straining, such as power-lifting, can exacerbate them. The best way to treat hemorrhoids, advise the expert researchers at the National Institutes of Health, is to eat foods high in fiber to help ensure that you do not develop either diarrhea or constipation. These foods include fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice and cracked wheat.
It is also important to stay hydrated, so drink at least 32 to 64 ounces of water every day and supplement that with fruit juices, herbal tisanes and clear broths. You can also use over-the-counter hemorrhoid treatments to help shrink swollen tissue and ease the pain and itching.
Read more: The Best Vitamins to Treat Hemorrhoids
Is This an Emergency?
- Cedars-Sinai Medical Center: Hemorrhoids
- Washington University Physicians: Don't Take Hemorrhoids Sitting Down
- Pacific College of Oriental Medicine: Soothing Natural Cures for Hemorrhoids
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for Hemorrhoids: What Should I Eat if I Have Hemorrhoids?