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Understanding Hemorrhoids -- Diagnosis and Treatment

Nutrition and Diet

Prevent constipation by following a high-fiber diet. Meals and snacks should consist primarily of vegetables, fruit, nuts, and whole grains. Limit processed foods and meats. If this is a big change for you, introduce the new foods slowly, to avoid gas.

If you aren't able to eat enough high-fiber food, supplement your diet with stool softeners or bulk-forming agents, such as fiber supplements. Avoid laxatives, which may cause diarrhea that can further irritate the swollen veins.

Drink at least eight glasses of water each day; if your life is especially active or you live in a hot climate, you will need to drink more water. Check with your health care provider about your fluid needs if you have any medical problems or take medication.

Monitor your sodium intake. Excess salt in the diet causes fluid retention, which leads to swelling in the veins, including hemorrhoids.

Hemorrhoid Home Remedies

  • Try not to sit for hours at a time, but if you must, take breaks: Once every hour, get up and move around for at least five minutes. A soft cushion may make sitting more comfortable and ease hemorrhoid pressure and pain.
  • Insert petroleum jelly just inside the anus to make bowel movements less painful.
  • Dab witch hazel, a soothing anti-inflammatory agent, on irritated hemorrhoids to reduce pain and itching, or use over-the-counter anti-hemorrhoidal creams or ointments.
  • Resist the temptation to scratch hemorrhoids, as it makes everything worse: The inflamed veins become more irritated; the skin around them becomes damaged; and the itching itself intensifies. Instead, to help stop the itching, apply an over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream to the skin (not inside the anus -- on the outside only) and a cold pack. Over-the-counter hemorrhoidal creams may relieve itching too.
  • If you need a pain reliever, try Tylenol. Avoid ibuprofen and aspirin, which foster bleeding.
  • Bathe regularly to keep the anal area clean, but be gentle: Excessive scrubbing, especially with soap, can intensify burning and irritation.
  • Don't force a bowel movement. Sit on the toilet for five minutes and if it doesn't happen, try again later. When wiping, be gentle. If toilet paper is irritating, try dampening it first, or use cotton balls or alcohol-free baby wipes. You may prefer washing yourself and then dabbing the area dry.
  • When performing any task that requires exertion, be sure to breathe evenly. It's common to hold your breath during exertion, and if you do, you're straining and contributing to hemorrhoid pain and bleeding.

 

How Can I Prevent Hemorrhoids?

A healthful diet and lifestyle are good insurance for helping to prevent hemorrhoids, whether you already suffer hemorrhoid symptoms or are intent on preventing them. Regular exercise also is important, especially if you work a sedentary job. Exercise helps in several ways: keeping weight in check, making constipation less likely, and enhancing muscle tone.

Healthy bowel habits also help prevent hemorrhoids. Use the toilet as soon as you feel the urge to go. Avoid straining during a bowel movement.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on March 30, 2014
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