If you’ve ever had a hemorrhoid, you know how uncomfortable they can be. And if you’ve never had one, well, there’s a good chance you’ll experience that discomfort at some point in your future.
That’s because although hemorrhoids affect about 1 out of every 20 Americans on average, they also tend to become more common with age. By the time you’re into your 50s, there’s a 50-50 chance you’ll develop a hemorrhoid at some point.
But before you cram your medicine cabinet with over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream, hear this: There’s also a good chance you can prevent hemorrhoids by making a few simple adjustments to your regular routine.
As a leading colorectal doctor in Coral Springs, Florida, Michael H. Tarlowe, MD, recommends these five tips to help you prevent painful hemorrhoids.
Tip #1: Add more fiber to your diet
Fiber helps prevent hemorrhoids (and improves bowel health) in a couple of key ways. First, fiber allows your stool to absorb and retain more water, which means stools are softer and easier to pass without straining.
Fiber also helps your bowels move more often. When your bowels are more active, your stool doesn’t have a chance to dry out and harden, so having a bowel movement is easier and more comfortable.
Tip #2: Drink more water
Water helps keep your stools soft so they pass more easily, preventing excess pressure on your anus and rectum. Other healthy beverages are OK, too. Just try to avoid alcohol and drinks with caffeine, both of which can draw water out of your stool.
Tip #3: Be more active
Physical activity keeps your bowels moving more regularly, helping prevent constipation and the resulting straining during bowel movements. Exercise also increases blood circulation to your bowel, improving the tone and function of your bowel and your anus.
Walking, swimming, and other aerobic activities are all good forms of exercise. If you’re prone to hemorrhoids, avoid activities that increase strain or pressure on your rectum, including weightlifting and long bike rides.
Tip #4: Consider a fiber supplement
With a little planning, most of us can get all the fiber we need by paying closer to our eating habits. But when your schedule is really busy, it can be difficult to get enough fiber for optimal bowel health. In that case, an over-the-counter fiber supplement may help.
Tip #5: Use your toilet time wisely
When you’re busy doing something, it’s tempting to put off using the toilet. But if you want to keep hemorrhoids at bay, you should go as soon as you feel the urge.
Delaying a bowel movement can cause it to become harder and drier, which means you’ll need to strain to eliminate it when you finally decide to head to the bathroom. Straining is a big cause of hemorrhoids.
More toilet tips: Use the bathroom for its intended purpose, not as a place to read, text, or watch videos. Sitting on the toilet for long periods puts extra strain on the blood vessels in your rectum and anus, increasing your risk of developing a hemorrhoid. If you can, elevate your feet on a low step stool to make moving your bowels easier.
Keep hemorrhoids at bay
Hemorrhoids may be common — but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer from them. Whether you’ve had hemorrhoids in the past or you’ve never been bothered by these swollen, inflamed veins, these five tips can help you enjoy better bowel health.
To learn more about hemorrhoid treatment and prevention, call 954-256-1842 or book an appointment online with Dr. Tarlowe today.