By taking a few simple steps you can relieve symptoms of hemorrhoids and prevent them from coming back. Some treatments involve simple products available from your local grocery store or pharmacy. Other treatments involve making changes in your diet and exercise habits, which can help ease constipation and straining during bowel movements, a primary cause of hemorrhoids.
1. Use water therapeutically
Water can be very soothing to inflamed, painful and itchy hemorrhoids. You may get relief from applying cold compresses or soaking your rectal area in warm water for about 10 minutes several times a day. A sitz bath, which fits over the toilet for this purpose, is a product sold at most pharmacies. Many people find that wiping gently with moist towelettes, instead of toilet paper, is beneficial and convenient.
2. Try over-the-counter products
Several types of over-the-counter (nonprescription) products offer quick relief of hemorrhoid symptoms. These include hemorrhoid creams, gels, foams, suppositories, and pads that contain hydrocortisone, witch hazel, or a constricting or numbing medication (such as, Preparation H, TUCKS Medicated Pads, and Lanacane). Oral medications that can help reduce inflammation and pain include acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin, and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).
3. Eat more fiber
Fiber helps you avoid constipation and straining to pass a bowel movement, which are both primary risk factors for developing hemorrhoids. A high-fiber diet also reduces the pain of hemorrhoids by making the stool soft and easier to pass. Most Americans eat less than the recommended 14 g of fiber per 1000 calories, or 25 g/day for a woman and 38 g/day for a man, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Some high fiber foods include fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans), bran, and whole-grain cereals and breads. As a bonus, a high-fiber diet may decrease your risk of some serious diseases, such as colon cancer, heart disease, and obesity.
4. Add a fiber supplement when your diet doesn’t cut it
Many people find it difficult to get enough fiber in their diets to produce soft stools, which can reduce the risk and pain of hemorrhoids. Eating a high-fiber diet is best, but if you are unable to consistently get 20 to 35 grams of fiber per day through foods you consume, there are a variety of products that can supplement your fiber intake. These include psyllium (Konsyl; Metamucil), methylcellulose (Citrucel), calcium polycarbophil (FiberCon), and wheat dextrin (Benefiber), all of which can be purchased without a prescription at your local grocery store or pharmacy.
5. Stay hydrated
Water is a key element of producing a soft stool which in turn reduces the pain of hemorrhoids. Drinking enough water can also help prevent hemorrhoids. As a general rule, you should drink about eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day – more if you are in hot weather and during exercise. In addition, you should avoid or limit alcohol and caffeine intake. Both alcohol and caffeine promote the loss of water from your body, which can cause hard stools and increase the pain of hemorrhoids.
6. Get enough exercise
Exercise is a key component of preventing and treating hemorrhoids. If your daily life or job includes sitting for long periods of time, be sure to get up and move around for a few minutes every hour or so. Be aware that certain physical activities should be avoided, including heavy lifting and anal intercourse, all of which can increase the risk of hemorrhoids and worsen symptoms.
7. Act on the urge
Mornings are a hectic time for many families, and you may not feel like you always have the time to sit down and use the bathroom. While it is not necessary have a bowel movement in the morning, it is important not to put off having a bowel movement when you feel the urge. Delaying defecation can lead to constipation as well as aggravate and encourage the development of hemorrhoids.
8. Take special care when you’re expecting
Hemorrhoids are very common during pregnancy and just after delivery. To keep you and your baby safe, you should talk to your health care provider about any symptoms you may have, such as rectal pain and itching, before trying any self-care treatments or products. One simple treatment when you are pregnant is lying on your left side when resting or sleeping to help reduce pressure on certain veins that can lead to vein swelling and hemorrhoids.