Although not dangerous, hemorrhoids are distressing and painful. However, there are effective and inexpensive protocols for pain relief that can be done at home.
The solution lies in prevention; it is indeed possible to reduce the risk of developing hemorrhoids (if you do not yet suffer from it) by adopting a healthy diet rich in fiber, by moving more and even by modifying the way you relieve yourself when you are on the toilet .
Hemorrhoids are dilated and swollen blood vessels, located in the lower part of the rectum and at the level of the anus. There are four types of hemorrhoids: internal hemorrhoids, prolapsed hemorrhoids, external hemorrhoids, and hemorrhoidal thrombosis. Nobody knows exactly what triggers hemorrhoids, but it is known that they appear due to an increase in pressure in the lower abdomen or rectum, which dilates the veins located in this region. This phenomenon then causes the swelling of these blood vessels.
Here are the factors that may affect your risk of developing hemorrhoids:
Straining when you have a bowel movement: People who strain when they have a bowel movement increase the pressure on the veins in the rectum and near the anus, which can trigger hemorrhoids.
Constipation or chronic diarrhea: this factor is linked to the previous one, these disorders can encourage you to force too much when you have a bowel movement
Prolonged sitting, especially on the toilet: Sitting for long periods of time, especially when on the toilet, puts pressure on your veins and therefore increases your risk of developing hemorrhoids
Family history: hereditary venous fragility could be considered a risk factor. Fragile veins tend to be easily damaged or dilated, and can eventually cause hemorrhoidal attacks
Aging: older people are more likely to have hemorrhoids because the tissues that support the veins in the rectum and anus loosen and weaken with age
A low fiber diet: not getting enough fiber can harden your stools, causing you to strain more when you have a bowel movement, increasing pressure on the rectum and anus and therefore your risk to develop hemorrhoids
Cirrhosis of the liver: the hemorrhoidal veins are part of a vast system that transports blood between the heart and the rectum, passing through the liver. Patients with cirrhosis of the liver have an obstruction in the flow of blood to the liver, so the blood must find another way around it. It is found in the hemorrhoidal veins, and can trigger hemorrhoidal attacks.
Obesity: obese people are more prone to hemorrhoids because they don’t eat enough fiber, drink less, generally spend more time sitting, and exercise less
Home remedies for hemorrhoids
There are many ways to treat and get rid of hemorrhoid problems, ranging from simple techniques that are easy to apply, to non-surgical procedures that may seem complicated but are doable.
How to treat hemorrhoids at home? If you or someone you know suffers from hemorrhoids, here is good news: you can treat them at home, by adopting one of the following techniques:
The sitz bath: a sitz bath is a hot water bath in which the buttocks and hips are soaked, and intended to relieve itching, irritation and spasms of the sphincter. If you want to try this method of treating your hemorrhoids, sit in a bathtub filled with a few inches of warm water, or buy a small plastic basin from the pharmacy that fits over the toilet seat. Most experts recommend a sitz bath for about 20 minutes after each bowel movement, plus two to three times a day.
You can also opt for a hot bath: in some people, a hot bath for 10 to 15 minutes, three to four times a day, also works very well to relieve swollen and painful hemorrhoids.
Apply an ice pack, hot tea bag, or compress soaked in witch hazel water to the anal area: Place an ice pack or hot tea bag on the anal area to relieve pain. Even better, if you have witch hazel water, soak a compress in it and apply it to the painful area for 10 to 15 minutes, three to four times a day.
Use a pierced round cushion if you have to sit down: this type of cushion relieves the anal region of some of the direct pressure.
Thoroughly clean the anal area: not only does this relieve itching, but it can also prevent hemorrhoidal infections.
Use a bidet instead of toilet paper to clean yourself after a bowel movement: Compared to toilet paper, using a bidet is an effective, less irritating and less expensive way to clean yourself after a bowel movement . If you don’t have one at home, use damp toilet paper or unscented baby wipes, then dab the anal area with paper towels to dry yourself.
Avoid scratching: this will only make the problem worse.
Don’t hold back when you want to have a bowel movement: when you put off the moment of relieving yourself, the stool tends to come up, which increases the pressure and then forces you to push more. It can be useful to set a time during the day to have a bowel movement, and thus establish a regular rhythm of transit. For example, you can get into the habit of going to the bathroom after one of the meals of the day.