Common symptoms of haemorrhoids include pain, itching and rectal bleeding. Pressure in the lower rectum caused by obesity, constipation or straining during bowel movements can increase pressure, stretching the veins around the anus. While treatment should not be delayed or else surgery may be necessary, acting as soon as possible can prevent haemorrhoids from getting worse. There are several lifestyle changes and self-care methods you can use to relieve symptoms quickly.
Watch your weight. Putting on extra pounds can increase pressure in the rectal vein, trapping blood inside and causing the vein to swell.
Eat more fibre in your diet and drink at least eight glasses water each day. This will help keep stool soft so that you avoid becoming constipated. Limit processed and sugary foods, as these take longer to digest producing a harder stool. Stool lacks fibre if it is short and hard. Constipation and excessive straining during bowel movements are common causes of haemorrhoids.
Lubricate your anus with petroleum jelly so that you can pass stool with less effort. Use a cotton swab to apply the petroleum jelly just inside the anus about a half inch into the rectum. Hard stool scrapes the area making haemorrhoids worse.
Take a warm sitz bath for about 20 minutes several times a day to ease pain and swelling. Sit with your knees raised in a tub of warm water about four inches deep. The warm water also increases the flow of blood to the area. Another option is to use an ice pack on the area for 15 to 20 minutes to reduce swelling and alleviate itching.
Apply witch hazel to the rectum with a cotton ball after a sitz bath. This is a gentle external treatment that can be effective in the early stages as the witch hazel causes blood vessels to shrink.
Limit any time you spend sitting down, including on the toilet. Try to keep the time you spend sitting on the toilet to fewer than five minutes. Information published by the College of Family Physicians of Canada explains that when a person sits on the toilet, the anus relaxes. This allows the veins to fill with blood increasing pressure on vein walls. If your job requires that you spend long hours sitting at a desk, get up frequently and stretch to keep blood flowing. If you have problems with haemorrhoids, you should not sit for more than one hour at a time.
Cut down on the amount of salt you consume. Too much salt can cause you to retain fluids in blood vessels. This in turn causes the veins in the rectum to bulge.
- Strenuous exercise such as lifting weights has much the same effect as straining to have a bowel movement when it comes to preventing haemorrhoids.
- Do not smoke or consume excessive amounts of alcohol or caffeine as these can lead to dehydration, which makes constipation worse.