What to eat when you have haemorrhoids

 

Haemorrhoids

Haemorrhoids are a common problem for many throughout the world. They can be painful and are likely to itch profusely, but they usually clear up on their own without medical intervention. They flare up when blood vessels in the rectum and anus are put under pressure, manifesting as lumps in and around the rectum or just outside the anus. People with haemorrhoids can experience itching, discomfort and evening bleeding, which can be alarming for anyone.

Doctors can prescribe medication to help deal with haemorrhoids (or piles, as they’re often known) once they occur, but treatments can often be administered at home, and a variety of other methods exist that help patients recover from haemorrhoids quickly, or avoid them altogether.

One major factor in combating the effects of haemorrhoids is food. Eating the right kinds of food in the right quantities can reduce your chances of getting haemorrhoids in the first place, and can assist your body during recovery if they do appear.

Let’s take a look at which foods help and hinder recovery from this troublesome condition.

What to eat when you have haemorrhoids

Fibre is the key here.

Haemorrhoids often occur on the back of a bout of constipation, when the bowel is put under increased pressure for a period of time as the patient strains to pass stool. This causes blood vessels to struggle in the rectal and anal regions and can lead to the development of painful haemorrhoid lumps, which can appear inside or outside the body in varying degrees of severity.

In order to avoid extreme bowel movements (constipation or diarrhoea), medical professionals advise people to consume plenty of high-fibre food to help the body handle the passing of stool in a comfortable, healthy way. Fibre helps soften stool, making it much easier to pass out of the body and avoid the risk of haemorrhoids.

Foods high in fibre include fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains such as brown rice, cracked wheat, and quinoa. If you’re suffering from haemorrhoids, try eating high-fibre bran or Shredded Wheat for breakfast; you could also try a bran muffin or fruit with natural yogurt. For lunch or dinner, ditch the salty snacks in favour of whole-wheat pasta, green vegetables, sweet potatoes, squash or any variety of beans.

Of course, overdoing it on the fibre can also lead to problems. Fibre is the indigestible part of carbohydrates and plants, and too much of it can lead to a build-up of gas, bloating and constipation – if you consume more than 70 grams of fibre a day, for instance, you put yourself at risk of suffering from these symptoms. Optimal levels of fibre intake vary based on age, gender and other factors, but it is generally agreed that 25g per day for women and 38g per day for men are ideal.

If you eat the right among of fibre by working more fruit, vegetables, beans and whole wheat into your diet, your digestive system will be healthier. You may also experience lower blood pressure and have fewer problems with weight, the heart and diabetes as you get older.

However, fibre isn’t all you need. It’s also vital that you drink plenty of fluids and remain hydrated throughout the day if you want to avoid the appearance of haemorrhoids. Doctors recommend drinking between 32 and 64 ounces of water each day

It is also important to stay hydrated, so drink at least 32 to 64 ounces of water every day and supplement it with fruit juices, clear soups and herbal drinks. Drinking lots of liquid throughout the day helps balance out your fibre intake, making you less likely to experience bowel movement problems and, in turn, haemorrhoids.

It’s also a good idea to combine a healthy, balanced diet with regular exercise, and avoid straining to lift very heavy items if you have haemorrhoids or have had them previously.

What to avoid eating if you have haemorrhoids

If you’re unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with haemorrhoids, start off your recovery by making changes to your diet. Increase consumption of fibre and liquids to help reduce your chances of becoming constipated and exacerbating the problem further, but also take steps to avoid certain foods that will not help at all in your recovery process.

Several food types can irritate haemorrhoids further. To start off with, try to avoid eating too many fatty foods such as fast food (like burgers or pizza), cheese, chips, ice cream, pre-prepared or frozen meals, fatty meats or processed food. All of these food types contain little or no fibre and are likely to just make matters worse in the long run.

Secondly, reduce your alcohol consumption as much as possible. If you can cut it out of your diet entirely, even better. Your body will have a much better chance of recovering quickly from haemorrhoids if less alcohol is entering your system.

Thirdly, try to avoid eating too much spicy food. While the food itself has no real bearing on haemorrhoids, it contains capsaicin, which can cause stomach problems. Bloating and gas can quickly lead to diarrhoea, which will have a negative impact on your recovery from haemorrhoids by putting fresh strain on your anal and rectal regions. Take a break from the Indian takeaways until your haemorrhoids clear up entirely.

It’s also a good idea to trim your intake of dairy foods, including ice-cream and cheese. Not only does dairy contain no fibre whatsoever, it actually irritates your bowel and can cause constipation. A common misconception exists that cheese curd is a natural cure for haemorrhoids, but this isn’t true. Reduce your dairy intake during your bout of haemorrhoids, if possible.  

Dietary changes

Just a few simply changes to your diet can help reduce your risk of developing haemorrhoids, or help them clear up faster if they’re already there. Give some thought to what you eat and see how you can make your diet that bit healthier to help avoid problems in future.

How to stop haemorrhoids from itching

 

Haemorrhoids are a common issue for many people, especially as they get older. They occur when blood vessels in the anus and rectum are put under pressure because of too much straining during a bowel movement, causing painful lumps to appear. These haemorrhoid lumps can be very uncomfortable and itchy for those suffering from the condition. They can also bleed, which can be upsetting. Haemorrhoids are, however, not life-threatening.

Why do haemorrhoids itch?

Haemorrhoids can occur both inside and outside the body. Those that appear internally reside inside the rectum, while external haemorrhoids appear under the skin around the anus. Both are painful for those who find themselves suffering from them.

Internal haemorrhoids can become prolapsed internal haemorrhoids when too much strain during a bowel movement forces them to project themselves through the anus. When this happens, the haemorrhoid brings with it a lot of mucus, which irritates the area around it and causes annoying itching for the sufferer. As long as the haemorrhoid is prolapsed, it continues to draw mucus out onto the sensitive skin around it and cause uncomfortable itching.

To make matters worse, stool mixed in with the mucus produced by the haemorrhoid only adds to the irritation and causes more itching. Other causes of anal itching include yeast infections, anal fissures, build-up of sweat, proctitis, stool leaking throughout the day or night, worm infection (pin, ring or hook), lice, psoriasis, scabies, herpes and, in the worst cases, cancer.

Anal itching can be caused or aggravated further by poor (or excessive) hygiene – an unclean anal region can lead to infection, while an area that is cleaned too vigorously can become dry and cracked. Itching can be reduced by using unscented toilet paper or other products, gentler wiping, looser clothing, and by keeping the region dry at all times.

How to reduce haemorrhoid itching

1. Stay clean and dry

Keeping the rectal and anal regions clean and dry at all times is the best way to reduce itchiness caused by haemorrhoids. Too much moisture in that sensitive area can lead to further irritation around external or prolapsed haemorrhoids, increasing itchiness and the likelihood of developing more significant issues, such as bleeding. If the area is kept clean and dry using unscented products, itchiness will be decreased noticeably.

2. Don’t scratch

Of course, the most difficult aspect of itchiness to overcome is the desire to scratch the area producing the sensation. This is easier said than done, as anyone who’s had chicken pox can attest to. But it’s imperative that haemorrhoids are not scratched, no matter how itchy, or they will simply continue to aggravate the patient further.

3. Try a warm compress

Itchiness can be relieved using a warm compress. This is achieved by soaking a soft clean towel in warm water and holding it against the anus in the exact spot the haemorrhoid is in, for up to 15 minutes. You can do this several times each day to reduce itchiness. Always dry yourself completely afterwards by patting the area down (don’t rub it).

4. Numb the area

Alternatively, you can use a cold compress. This is basically the same as the warm compress method, except you use an ice pack instead of a hot towel. Wrap the ice pack in a towel to avoid it sticking to your skin during treatment. This can be tried several times each day, as with the warm compress, to reduce haemorrhoid swelling. Try using a warm compress immediately afterwards to further reduce itchiness and haemorrhoid pain.

5. Essential oils

Another popular approach to treating haemorrhoid itching is it use essential oils. Oil treatments are straightforward to make – just add two to four drops of essential oil to two fluid ounces of base oil (almond, castor, etc) and apply the mixed product directly to the haemorrhoid. You can use tea tree oil (antiseptic and anti-inflammatory), lavender oil, cypress oil or avocado oil to reduce itchiness and help the irritated skin area heal.

6. Soak the area

Soaking your rectal region in a tub is another effective method to reduce haemorrhoid itchiness. You can do this using a full-size bathtub or a sitz bath, a basin that can be purchased at the local pharmacy. Just fill it with warm water and soak your anus in it a couple of times each day to ease the discomfort associated with haemorrhoid itchiness. Much like a warm compress, the heat and moisture help soothe the affected region. You can also add some baking soda or Epsom salts to the water to aid in the healing process. Always pat yourself dry afterwards – excessive moisture can only aggravate the issue further.

7. Protect the area

If home remedies fail to stop your haemorrhoids itching, your doctor may suggest using a protectant to keep the irritated area separated from stool during bowel movements. Products such as Desitin, Sensi Care, A & D Ointment, Hydraguard and Calmoseptine are useful, creating barriers between the sensitive haemorrhoid-affected region and stool passing it during bowel movements.

8. Try a medicated pad

Similarly, your doctor may advise you to try a medicated pad, which can be bought at the local pharmacy. These are straightforward to use – simply clean the anal region and then use the pad to gently wipe it down. As in every instance concerning haemorrhoids, avoid rubbing the area. These can be used up to six times a day, and should always be used after a bowel movement (once the area has been totally cleaned first).

9. Itch-relieving lotion

Finally, a number of medicated lotions and gels that combat itchiness are on the market. For instance, Aloe Vera or Preparation H gel can greatly reduce the pain or itchiness associated with haemorrhoids, and can be used multiple times every day. You should avoid the use of any gel or lotion containing steroids as these will only aggravate the issue further over time.

If you’re experiencing painful haemorrhoid itching that the methods above can’t ease, speak to your doctor as soon as possible.

Treating haemorrhoids at home

Haemorrhoids

Haemorrhoids, or piles, are a common problem for people throughout the world. They occur when veins in the anus and rectum swell, causing discomfort, itchiness and sometimes discharge of fluids, including blood.

Though haemorrhoids typically clear up on their own in a relatively-short time and don’t always necessitate a visit to the doctor, they’re still a painful nuisance for those who suffer from them.

Here are a few simple ways to treat haemorrhoids at home:

1. Try a Sitz bath

Sitting in warm water for around 15 minutes a few times each day is generally agreed to be one of the best home treatments for haemorrhoids. The warm water can help soothe irritation around the anus and rectum, especially if Epsom salts are added.

Doctors recommend using a Sitz bath for this process, and advise haemorrhoid sufferers to try it after every bowel movement. Unscented soap should be used (without scrubbing). Sitz baths can be bought at most local pharmacies or online and are a convenient way to soak the affected area without the need for a full-body bath.

After soaking is complete, the area should be patted dry rather than rubbed in order to avoid further irritation. A hair-dryer can also be used.

2. Cold compresses the region

A second particularly-effective treatment involves the use of an ice pack or cold compress to help reduce haemorrhoid swelling. Wrap the ice pack or cold compress in a paper towel or cloth first – holding an uncovered pack to the skin can be dangerous. Try this several times a day for 15 minutes at a time to gain some relief from haemorrhoids.

3. Wear the right clothing

Keep your anal region dry and clean by wearing loose, breathable cotton clothing rather than tight-fitting clothes made from materials like polyester. Loose cotton underwear should also be worn. Keeping the anal region aired-out helps avoid the build up of moisture, which only worsens haemorrhoid symptoms. Also avoid using detergents with perfume in them, or fabric softeners, until the haemorrhoids are gone.

4. Try psyllium husk

Improving your fibre intake is key to avoiding constipation and more haemorrhoids.

A supplement like psyllium husk helps increase fibre intake while also softening your stool, making bowel movements easier. Always drink plenty of water when using supplements, and don’t overdo it.

5. Use witch hazel

Witch hazel is an anti-inflammatory that can reduce swelling. It can be bought as a liquid and applied to haemorrhoids directly, but it’s also present in various anti-itch products (wipes and soaps).

6. Try ointments or medication

If natural products aren’t working, you can purchase various creams and ointments from pharmacies which provide relief from pain and itchiness straight away, and also combat swelling. Painkillers can also help get you through the worst periods of haemorrhoid suffering.

If the product you’re using contains hydrocortisone, however, stop using it after a week at most.

7. Give aloe vera a try

Aloe vera is another product while naturally tackles haemorrhoids. Like witch hazel, it’s anti-inflammatory and helps reduce swelling and irritation. It can be purchased as a gel and occurs in a variety of products, but only pure aloe vera should be used on haemorrhoids as many other products also contain perfumes, which can cause irritation.

8. Stool softeners

Stool softeners are useful for reducing constipation. They work to soften stool and make it easier to pass in a bowel movement. Softeners come in liquid, powder and capsule form, and can be taken several times each day.

9. Use tea tree oil (in moderation)

Like witch hazel and aloe vera, tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce swelling and itchiness around the anal and rectal areas. Studies have suggested that tea tree oil certainly helps combat haemorrhoid symptoms, but there isn’t currently a lot of evidence to support its usage, and doctors are unlikely to prescribe it. 

10. Watch what you eat and drink

Bump up the fiber. It softens your stools and makes them move through your body more easily. You’ll find it in beans, whole-grain breads and cereals, and fresh fruits and veggies. You may also want to try a supplement if you can’t get enough from foods. Add fiber slowly to help avoid gas and bloating.

Drink lots of fluids. Stay well hydrated to keep stools soft so they’re easier to pass. Water is the best choice. Drink plenty throughout the day. Prune juice is a natural laxative and can help you go.

11. Stay active

Stay as active as possible when you have haemorrhoids. Go for a walk, or do some simply housework that involves being on your feet. Sitting for long periods only worsens the symptoms of haemorrhoids, and if you are sitting, try using a cushion or pillow to ease the swelling.

12. Maintain good habits in the bathroom

Finally, taking time to consider the way in which you use the bathroom (and the time you spend there) can ultimately be the most straightforward way to treat haemorrhoids at home, as well as preventing them in future.

For a start, don’t spend too long on the toilet. Try to incorporate toilet time into your daily routine, and if nothing happens after a short time, don’t try forcing it.

On the flip side, don’t hold it in, either. If you need to go, just go – waiting for a more convenient time can just put added strain on the affected region. And when you’re done, be gentle when wiping. If the toilet paper you’re using causes more irritation, try dampening it or using wipes.

Also ensure that you breathe regularly when passing stool. Many people hold their breath when pushing, which only leads to more pain and possible bleeding. Breathe as normally as possible when making a bowel movement. You can also try sitting in more of a squat position when on the toilet to help your bowels move more freely – prop your feet up higher with something and keep your knees raised.

Can haemorrhoids be caused by pregnancy?


Haemorrhoids, which are often known as piles, are a common but frustrating ailment. They often flare up in older people or during pregnancy, though anyone can get them at any time, and sometimes necessitate a visit to the doctor. If you’ve never had them before, you may be alarmed by the symptoms that accompany their appearance in your body. However, haemorrhoids are usually no cause for worry and can clear up on their own.

What are haemorrhoids?

Haemorrhoids are swellings that occur when blood vessels expand. They appear inside or around the bottom, in the rectum and the anus; they can manifest both externally and internally, and are graded based on whether or not they extend out of the anal canal, and by how far. They are classified as first, second, third, fourth, or external haemorrhoids (or piles), and normally increase in painfulness the further they extend.

Symptoms of haemorrhoids include itchiness, aches and pains, anal swelling, painful passing of faeces, mucus discharge, a lump protruding from the anus, and bleeding after passing stool.

Suffering from haemorrhoids becomes more likely as you get older. Being constipated or spending a lot of time straining on the toilet also increases your chances of getting them. Haemorrhoids can also occur during and after pregnancy, though they usually clear up after the baby arrives.

In this article, we’ll explore whether or not haemorrhoids are caused by pregnancy.

What usually causes haemorrhoids?

Haemorrhoids normally flare up when veins in the anal canal swell and become inflamed. This is most often caused by excessive strain when using the toilet (if you have ongoing diarrhoea or are constipated), which commonly results from a lack of fibre in the diet, though they can also occur as a result of attempts to lift very heavy items or because of a cough that won’t go away.

Haemorrhoids are also often caused by being overweight, having a history of them in the family, or by sitting down for extended time periods. However, pregnancy can also lead to an appearance of haemorrhoids due to a variety of factors.

Can pregnancy cause haemorrhoids?

Haemorrhoids are most common in pregnancy in the third trimester. During this time, the uterus (enlarged by the pregnancy) puts added pressure on veins, causing them to inflame. They are an itchy, inconvenient and often painful irritation for women during a time when their bodies are undergoing significant change. However, they are usually not a threat to the health of the baby, and don’t last long.

As your unborn baby grows, your uterus gets bigger and begins to press against your pelvis. This growth puts a lot of pressure on the veins near your anus and rectum, and these veins may become swollen and painful as a result.

During pregnancy, the body’s production of the hormone progesterone increases substantially, which can relax vein walls and make them more likely to swell – this can lead to the appearance of haemorrhoids in the anal canal. In addition, the overall volume of blood in the body also increases, which forces veins to enlarge in order to compensate.

During pregnancy, haemorrhoids are most often caused by bowel strain, additional pregnancy weight, extended periods sitting down, and constipation.

Constipation and haemorrhoids in pregnancy

A large percentage of women can experience constipation during the course of their pregnancy. This is usually attributed to the uterus (which has grown significantly in size) pressing against the bowels, placing undue pressure on the inferior vena cava, the vein which drains the other veins of the large intestine. Hormones associated with pregnancy also slow down the movement of food through the intestines and cause women to have slower bowel movements that are much more strained and less frequent than usual, leading to constipation. Iron supplements required during pregnancy can also contribute to it.

To ease constipation during pregnancy (and in doing so, lessen the chance of developing haemorrhoids), it’s a good idea to drink a good amount of fluid, particularly water, and consume plenty of fibre in your diet; fruits, vegetables and whole grains are a must – pears, berries, avocados, artichokes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lentils, beans, peas, seeds and nuts are great sources of fibre. Increased exercise and straining less when on the toilet are also helpful methods of easing constipation.

How to prevent haemorrhoids during pregnancy

You can reduce your chance of developing haemorrhoids during pregnancy through a handful of simple but effective actions.

First, avoid standing or sitting in one spot for too long. Take every opportunity to get up and walk around for a bit, especially if your job involves sitting for extended periods of time. Try lying on your side on the sofa when watching TV or when reading in bed to reduce pressure on veins in your rectum. And when you feel the need to use the toilet, go straight away as holding it in make constipation more likely.

Secondly, do daily exercises aimed at strengthening your pelvic floor muscles – this can help improve your rectal circulation, assisting in the avoidance of constipation. These exercises can be performed at home, at work, or anywhere you find yourself.

Finally, you can ask your doctor for a stool softener to help avoid constipation. Laxatives should be steered well clear of as they can stimulate uterine contractions and cause dehydration.

How to treat haemorrhoids during pregnancy

Though they will usually go away of their own accord, there are several simple ways to treat haemorrhoids at home, at least to reduce itchiness and discomfort.

If the area is swollen, try applying an ice pack several times a day to bring it down and make you less uncomfortable. You can also soak your rectal region in warm water throughout the day using a basin or a shallow bath.

It’s also crucial to keep your anus clean and dry during the day. Take care to clean the area immediately after every bowel movement. Baby wipes or moist paper towels are a better alternative in this instance to toilet paper, which can be rough.

You should always pat rather than wipe your rectal region after a bowel movement to avoid irritation; if the area does become itchy, use baking soda or products made with hazel to ease the sensation. Always speak to your doctor before applying anything, though.

How 20 years of torment from piles was ended by a ten-minute operation: Patient says the day after the surgery ‘felt like a dream’

  • Three-quarters of people suffer from piles or haemorrhoids at some stage
  • Now a simple procedure under local anaesthetic could end their misery
  • Mother-of-two Dharmistha Patel, was one of the first to get this done… 

Three-quarters of us suffer from piles or haemorrhoids (swollen tissue and blood vessels in the back passage) at some stage.

Now a simple procedure done under local anaesthetic in just minutes could eradicate them.

Mother-of-two Dharmistha Patel, 43, from Brighton had it done, as she tells MATTHEW BARBOUR.

 

THE PATIENT

Since I was pregnant with my daughter 20 years ago, I have suffered from haemorrhoids.

Some days, especially if I felt stressed, I was in constant pain, with a lot of bleeding.

I went to see my GP for a referral to a specialist and was told the only answer was complicated surgery.

This would have meant a long, painful recovery and at the time I had my children to look after and I ran a business with my husband, Ashok, and could not afford the time off work.

My symptoms would flare up for a few days and then fade again.

Every time I felt I had to get them sorted, they seemed to get better, so I didn’t think it was worth having surgery.

I never tried over-the-counter remedies as I knew they wouldn’t cure the root cause.

I have always been healthy and love exercising, but the piles made yoga, Pilates and gym classes difficult.

I would ask Ashok to lift anything heavy. It was depressing, but, like many of my friends (particularly the mums) who had them, I just got on with it.

Ashok always nagged me to see a specialist to have surgery, but the more he pushed me and the older I got, the less I wanted it done.

After a painful summer, I couldn’t put it off any longer and saw a specialist privately. I was told about a new option called Halo where the piles are stitched to cut off the blood supply rather than cut out.

It looked like a less painful option so I booked to have it done.

But while waiting for that appointment I read about a newer procedure called Rafaelo and arranged another consultation.

The morning after the surgery I told the consultant it felt like a dream — no pain, no bleeding, nothing. It was the first time in 20 years that I’d felt like this

The consultant explained that Rafaelo is quicker than Halo and can be done without a general anaesthetic.

He said it involved using radiofrequency energy to shrink the piles in minutes. So I agreed to cancel the Halo procedure and have Rafaelo instead.

Ten days later, I had it done with local anaesthetic. I couldn’t feel anything except a slightly warm sensation.

It was over inside ten minutes and I left hospital an hour later, feeling no pain at all.

The next morning I told the consultant it felt like a dream — no pain, no bleeding, nothing. It was the first time in 20 years that I’d felt like this.

I’m back doing yoga, Pilates and lots of gym classes. I can also lift anything heavy and I’m not in discomfort at all.

THE SURGEON

Nick West is a consultant colorectal surgeon at Spire St Anthony’s Hospital in Cheam, Surrey, and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Haemorrhoids, also known as piles, are essentially swollen blood vessels that can occur inside and around the bottom.

The lining of the area contains a network of small veins, and for various reasons these become wider and fill with more blood than usual.

They can be caused by anything that increases pressure in the abdomen and are commonly seen in pregnancy, chronic constipation, and are often caused by a diet lacking in fibre.

Haemorrhoids can be caused by anything that increases pressure in the abdomen and are commonly seen in pregnancy.

Haemorrhoids come in different grades according to their complexity, which depends on their location and the number and size of the blood vessels involved.

Often there are no symptoms, but as a large proportion of the population knows — around 75 per cent of adults, according to latest data — they can cause itching, bleeding and discomfort.

Many people with haemorrhoids don’t seek professional help because of embarrassment or the fear of surgery.

One common treatment for piles is banding, where an elastic band is looped around the piles to cut off the blood supply.

The piles then wither. While this is quick, the piles can return and patients often need further treatment.

Until a few years ago, if your piles were too severe for banding, you might have a haemorrhoidectomy, an operation in which the piles are cut out.

While effective, this requires a general anaesthetic and leaves patients with an open wound.

It can take weeks to heal, meaning time off work and taking painkillers and laxatives to ease the passage of stools.

Around five years ago, surgeons developed the Halo and THD procedures, which use an ultrasound probe to locate the arteries supplying the pile and then it is stitched to stop the blood flow.

Many people with haemorrhoids don’t seek professional help because of embarrassment or the fear of surgery

Once the blood flow is stopped, the pile will shrink and over the next few days will disappear. The piles are far less likely to return than with banding.

These procedures are a lot less painful than a haemorrhoidectomy, but are still done under a general anaesthetic and patients need a day or two off work to recover.

Now we offer a procedure called Rafaelo, which was pioneered in Poland and Belgium last year. This uses radiofrequency energy to burn away the pile.

The main advantage is that Rafaelo doesn’t require a general anaesthetic, can be performed as a day-case procedure and patients can get back to their normal lives much faster.

It is the same technology used to cauterise varicose veins and to treat liver and lung cancer.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS?

As with any piles procedure, there is a low risk of bleeding.

There is also a low risk of infection and slight discomfort.

It can be used on all but the most severe, external haemorrhoids. For those, surgery is the only option.