When certain veins in a person’s anus and lower rectum become swollen, the resulting medical condition is known as hemorrhoids. Another, less common, name for it is piles. Although experts have not been able to pinpoint the exact cause of this condition, there are several factors which can play a role in it by increasing the pressure on the aforementioned veins.
These factors include chronic constipation or diarrhea, sitting on the toilet for extended periods of time, and obesity. Pregnancy also increases the odds of developing hemorrhoids because of the pressure created by the weight of the baby. Additionally, the risk of hemorrhoids increases as you age because the tissue supporting those veins can weaken.
Depending on where they develop, hemorrhoids can either be internal or external. They do not always cause noticeable symptoms but when they do, those symptoms can include bleeding, itching, swelling, and pain.
While many people may not feel comfortable discussing this issue, it is actually very common. Certain sources claim that around 50% of all people will have some problems with hemorrhoids by the time they turn 50.
When hemorrhoids appear, the accompanying symptoms will usually be present for a few days. Doctors can treat this condition in numerous ways. There are procedures involving special rubber bands, lasers, as well as more serious surgical options. But before it gets to any of this, there are a number of natural home remedies for hemorrhoids you can try. If your symptoms are sufficiently mild, no other treatment may be needed.
Before we get to specific remedies, it is important to quickly mention several things you can also do on your own that can actually help you prevent hemorrhoids in the first place, thereby eliminating the need for any treatment. In essence, it boils down to trying to make your stools soft and preventing constipation.
Naturally, it begins with what you eat. And here, we are looking at fiber. The recommendation is to get 25-30g of it each day, and many people don’t. So, you should try to slowly increase your fiber intake. We say slowly because you can otherwise experience cramping or have problems with gas.
Therefore, gradually incorporate an increasing amount of fiber-rich ingredients into your diet. For example, these can be whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. You have quite a few options in this regard so you shouldn’t have a problem finding ingredients you enjoy eating.
Liquids are the next step, as expected. To keep your stools soft, drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol.
You should also exercise regularly. The intensity should match your level of fitness, but even activities such as brisk walking can help. Exercise can be beneficial for bowel movements and help you lose weight, both of which can reduce the likelihood of hemorrhoids developing.
Also, wearing cotton underwear can help. It’s easy on the skin and can prevent irritation which can lead to hemorrhoids flaring up.
Finally, we’ll mention a few bathroom habits which can help in this regard. As mentioned before, try not to sit on the toilet for too long – this can put pressure on the veins in the rectal area.
Also, try not to strain when passing stool. Or at least, don’t strain excessively – so, you shouldn’t hold your breath and push as hard as you can. A technique that might help with this is raising your knees while on the toilet – simply put something like a small bench beneath your feet to make this easier.
As a final point, go to the bathroom the second you start to feel the urge. By waiting, your stool can become harder to pass.
If you don’t manage to prevent hemorrhoids from appearing, the next step is to try these home remedies to relieve the pain and speed up recovery.
A sitz bath is simply a shallow bath for your buttocks and hips. In other words, you sit in warm water. You can use a regular bathtub for this and only fill it up partially or buy a special basin which goes over your toilet seat.
The bath should last between 10 and 20 minutes (the longer the better). Just remember to have more hot water handy to maintain the right temperature – warm but not so hot to cause discomfort. You should take these baths at least two or three times per day, particularly after bowel movements.
It’s possible you’ll feel dizzy when you stand up. This will pass, but you should be careful. Do not rub the area afterward to dry it – this can cause irritation. Pat it or use a hairdryer.
Aloe vera has a long history of being used for medicinal purposes. Research supports some of the purported beneficial effects and it is considered safe to use, but further study would be needed in order to provide definitive evidence. As such, there is no direct proof that it helps with hemorrhoids, but it has shown promise.
As long as you are not allergic to it, you should find it in gel form and apply directly to your hemorrhoids. Just be careful it’s pure aloe vera, without other ingredients.
Once again, witch hazel is a plant with a good reputation but without enough scientific evidence to fully back those claims up. When applied to hemorrhoids, it may help reduce the associated itching, bleeding, and pain. Even the Mayo Clinic recommends it for this use so it is definitely worth a try.
We already mentioned that increasing your fiber intake is helpful in preventing the onset of hemorrhoids. But the benefits also apply even after this condition has appeared – fiber will make the symptoms less severe. This is where Psyllium comes in – it’s a natural supplement which can help your bowel movements.
Applying ice packs several times a day can help with the swelling and reduce the pain.
Lastly, it’s obvious why sitting on hard surfaces can be problematic to anyone who’s suffering from this condition. A cushion will reduce existing swelling and play a part in stopping new hemorrhoids from forming.
Hemorrhoids can be a minor issue or an incredibly painful condition. In some cases, you’ll have to visit a doctor. But before you make that trip, try some of the natural home remedies for hemorrhoids mentioned in this article – they may be enough. Prevention is also important and can help you avoid the problem altogether.