If you have hemorrhoids, you know how uncomfortable these enlarged veins of the anus or lower rectum are. They often cause pain, itching, and bleeding with bowel movements, and they’re a common problem for people of all ages.
Up to 3 in 4 people get hemorrhoids at some point during their life. It can be an embarrassing topic to bring up with your doctor, but seeking treatment is the most effective way to manage hemorrhoids.
General surgeon Elvira Klause, MD, FACS, specializes in hemorrhoid care, offering treatment options from at-home sitz baths to minimally invasive rubber band ligation. It’s not clear exactly what causes hemorrhoids, but certain lifestyle habits may increase your risk of this bothersome condition.
A few common bad habits that are linked to hemorrhoids include:
Eating a diet low in fiber
Fiber is a nutrient that’s essential for healthy digestion. It’s naturally found in fruit, vegetables, and whole-grain foods, but many Americans don’t get enough fiber in their daily diets. Without enough fiber, your stool may become harder and more difficult to pass.
Eating a lot of food that’s low in fiber (like red meat, dairy products, and baked goods with white flour) increases your risk of constipation. Constipation may cause you to strain with bowel movements, creating hemorrhoids or making existing hemorrhoids worse.
Too much strenuous exercise
Both aerobic exercise and strength training promote your overall health. In fact, regular exercise encourages blood flow and reduces your risk of hemorrhoids, but certain types of exercise could make hemorrhoids worse.
Weightlifting and other activities that cause excessive strain put extra pressure on the veins in your rectum. Heavy lifting outside the gym could also exacerbate hemorrhoids.
If you regularly lift heavy objects at the gym or at work, practice proper lifting techniques and reduce strain on your back and your rear.
Ignoring the urge to visit the restroom
Whether you’re focused on a task or you feel uncomfortable using public restrooms, it can be tempting to put off visiting the restroom when you feel the urge to go. But doing so creates strain on your rectum and increases your risk of hemorrhoids.
Along with putting off bathroom breaks, irregular bowel movements, chronic constipation, or chronic diarrhea all affect bowel health. These issues could increase your risk of hemorrhoids.
Spending too much time on the toilet
When you sit on the toilet for a bowel movement, the muscles in your pelvic area naturally relax to help you pass stool. This relaxation encourages blood flow to the area, which enlarges veins and increases your risk of hemorrhoids.
Avoid sitting on the toilet for any longer than you need to. Limit your time to about five minutes or less, and consider leaving your phone and other reading materials in another room so you don’t lose track of time.
There’s no way to ensure you’ll be free of hemorrhoids, but there’s much you can do to reduce your risk. Learn more about preventing and treating hemorrhoids by scheduling a consultation with Dr. Klause. Contact us to schedule your appointment today at our San Clemente, California, office.