What are hemorrhoids?
As the legendary Chinese general and military strategist once said, “Know thy enemy.”
Well this enemy goes by an alias: hemorrhoids (also spelled as “Haemorrhoids” in some parts of the world). It is also known as piles. Hemorrhoids are swellings that contain enlarged blood vessels found in the rectum and anus. When the walls of these blood vessels are stretched, they become irritated.
What causes hemorrhoids?
If it’s any consolation, piles are not the type to simply attack for no good reason. Among many types of pain, hemorrhoids are one of the simpler ones in that the cause and effect are quite straightforward.
The very bottom line of piles pain is when the veins around the anus are stretched under pressure. This causes the anus to bulge and swell.
These are among the many reasons why hemorrhoids can result from mounting pressure in the lower rectum:
- Sitting for long periods of time during bowel movement
- Having chronic diarrhea or constipation
- Anal intercourse
- Being on a low-fibre diet
- Lifting heavy objects regularly
- Giving birth
- Straining when passing a stool
Who are susceptible to piles or hemorrhoids?
As you can see, simple things like sitting for long periods on the toilet can cause piles. Whether we care to admit it or not, we’ve all been guilty in varying degrees of relishing our time in the throne a little bit too much. The point is, anyone can get piles, but if you fall under any of these categories, you may be more likely to be affected by hemorrhoids:
If you are over the age of 50
Age may just be a number to us, but for hemorrhoids, it matters. It’s been shown that hemorrhoids get more common as people age, particularly when you are over the age of 50.
If you are pregnant
The extra weight and pressure on the pelvis caused by pregnancy can result in vein swelling in the lower body. The fetus’ increasing weight also bears pressure on the pelvis.
If you are obese
Obese individuals commonly suffer from hemorrhoids due to the excess weight. The link between obesity and hemorrhoids is undeniable. Unfortunately, the pressure isn’t just on one’s knees and joints, but also on the veins and blood vessels around the anus and colon. If you carry a lot of excess weight in your abdominal region, you are also carrying a high risk of developing hemorrhoids.
If you are constipated or have a low-fibre diet
When you don’t have enough fibre on your diet, chances are, you are also constipated. When you’re constipated, you likely strain yourself in order to pass stool. Straining during bowel movements can easily cause the veins in the anus and lower rectum to swell. This, in turn, will cause hemorrhoids or piles. As we said, piles are not very complicated; it’s a straightforward case of cause and effect. So, eat your leafy greens and oats!
If you are sedentary
Sedentary people often sit and lay around for long periods of time. Being physically inactive and sitting long hours can put pressure on the veins of the blood vessels around the anal area.
Surgery for hemorrhoids
Ideally, surgery would be your last resort for getting rid of hemorrhoids. This is for those with an internal hemorrhoid protruding outside of the anal canal area, also called as prolapsed hemorrhoids. When the protruding tissue cannot be pushed back in, hemorrhoid surgery or a “hemorrhoidectomy” is necessary.
How to reduce piles pain naturally
Here are tried-and-tested methods that have been proven to reduce piles pain significantly without surgery:
Using an ice pack
Cold temperature will reduce almost any kind of pain and swelling, including piles. There are ice packs for hemorrhoids available that provide natural numbing of the anus area. Cold therapy will also help shrink swollen hemorrhoidal tissue and hemorrhoid gel packs such as this will provide pain relief discreetly.
These ice packs are perfect for fast relief from burning, soreness, itch, swelling or even bleeding.
Drink lots of fluid and up your fibre intake.
Knowing the enemy is knowing the solution. Fortunately, piles are quite uncomplicated and its causes are plain and simply seen. Undoing these causes can help reduce the pain brought by biles. The key to reducing piles pain is to not be constipated. If you can soften your stool and make yourself pass stool as regularly as possible, you will greatly reduce your piles pain.
Drink lots of water (if you’re constipated, we recommend taking more than the suggested 3 to 4 litres a day) and eat food that has plenty of fibre such as leafy greens, barley, rolled oats, apples, etc.
It’s been established that sitting around too long hurts your bottom in more ways than one. First, it can result to having a weak (read: flat) bum, and, second, sitting for long periods of time can put too much pressure on the anal area as well so this can also cause hemorrhoids.
Exercising and being physically active brings about a ton of benefits. It will reduce your chances of having piles, will give you a better physique and improve your overall health.
According to Harvard Medical School, taking warm baths for up to 20 minutes every after bowel movement can help soothe irritation from hemorrhoids. If you add Epsom salts to your bath, you can apparently make this more effective. This method sounds very relaxing, we think it’s a good idea whether you have piles or not!
Over-the-counter pain relief
One can always get by with a little help from their friends, and by “friends” we mean over-the-counter pain ointments and creams. Many pain relief brands for hemorrhoids, like Preparation H, can be easily found in most chemists and drug stores. They can provide immediate relief and may even reduce swelling. Just be aware that if you use an ointment with hydrocortisone, you shouldn’t use it for more than a week.
Anyone may get hemorrhoids or piles, but the great thing is, it’s also quite easy to prevent them and get pain relief when you have them.