How to Decrease Your Risk of Hemorrhoids
Last updated: September 2022
Does going number 2 have you seeing red? You may have hemorrhoids – swelling of the veins within the anus and lower rectum. While this may sound like TMI (too much information), it's a more common problem than you think, and it often comes up in nutrition counseling.
The most common hemorrhoid symptoms are pain or blood during a bowel movement. However, you may also experience swelling or irritation around the anus. Talk about unpleasant! To help prevent the lumps from hurting your dumps, try these easy lifestyle changes.
Who is at risk of hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are not just an "old person" problem – although they are at increased risk. Like an elastic band, the tissues supporting the rectum tend to weaken and stretch over time, causing constipation that may lead to hemorrhoids.
Since people with Parkinson's disease often experience constipation, they are equally susceptible to these painful poops. Other risk factors include pregnancy, obesity, and having a family history of hemorrhoids. If you identify with one or more of these groups, check out these 3 daily changes to help prevent hemorrhoids.
Elevate your legs
End the strain to your bathroom game! Decrease pressure on your colon by adding a step stool into your toilet routine. All it takes is about 5 to 6 inches of elevation to reposition your legs and reduce the risk of hemorrhoids forming.
If you don't have a step stool available to raise your legs, use a small box. If your pain persists despite your new and improved potty position, it's best to consult with a registered dietitian for diet and lifestyle ideas or a physician for medicine.
Make it quick
The toilet should not be a place to read, answer emails, respond to text messages, scroll on social media, or watch videos. While you may feel you are multitasking, prolonged sitting (especially on a toilet) adds unwanted pressure to the veins in your rear.
So, put down the devices or books and focus on the task at hand. If you aren't ready to go, that's okay! It's best not to force the situation. It will happen when it happens.
While you may prefer to make your moves from the comfort of your own home, holding it in won't do your body any favors. In fact, dismissing the urge to poop can make it more challenging to go at a later time.
Manage your constipation
Chronic constipation is a common struggle among people with Parkinson's disease. However, there are many dietary interventions that may help smooth your moves. Check out these tips for improving your bowel regularity to help decrease the risk of hemorrhoids.
Feed with fiber
Skipping out on fiber can really pump the breaks on your digestive tract, contributing to constipation. Aim to include about 25 grams a day for women and 38 grams a day for men to help improve gastrointestinal health.1
While soluble fiber increases the bulk of your stool, insoluble fiber decreases the transit time through the digestive tract – helping to minimize bathroom strains that may contribute to hemorrhoids. However, be sure to increase your fiber intake slowly to avoid unwanted effects such as cramping, bloating, and gas.
Getting enough water helps your body become a well-oiled machine. Not only does it help to soften your stools, but it also helps propel them through your digestive system by supporting muscle function.
To know if you are getting enough water, listen to your body. Your urine should be pale yellow in color. If it's darker, this is a sign that you may need to increase your fluid intake. If it's consistently clear, you may be over-drinking or consuming your liquids too quickly. Remember to sip slowly to improve water absorption and decrease your risk of constipation.
Keeping your bowels moving is a full-body affair. Regular exercise can help decrease stool's transit time, reducing the chance of constipation and therefore minimizing the risk of hemorrhoids. However, excessive, sudden weightlifting may increase unwanted strain and add pressure to your rectal veins. Start light and work your way up!
Remember, not every rectal bleed stems from hemorrhoids. Be sure to contact your healthcare provider if symptoms persist. To learn more about managing constipation, check out A High-Fiber Sample Meal Plan for Parkinson’s Disease and The Benefits of Fiber for Parkinson's Constipation.
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