5 Ways to Relieve Hemorrhoids

1. Understand Hemorrhoids

Most hemorrhoids are benign in origin and often result from straining during a bowel movement or from pregnancy. Hemorrhoids are actually columns of cells infused by veins, but when that blood supply is cut off or otherwise interfered with, the hemorrhoids can swell. Hemorrhoids can be internal or external. The external ones tend to be painful, while the internal ones are not.

2. When to Consult Your Doctor

The most common symptoms of hemorrhoids are blood from the site and pain, in the case of external hemorrhoids. Often, internal hemorrhoids remain internal, and the only reason to worry about them is if you note the presence of blood, particularly between stools. If you cannot feel the hemorrhoid on the outside of the anus and you note moderate blood loss, it’s time to consult your doctor to rule out other possible causes, such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or colorectal cancer.

3. Relieve Discomfort With a Sitz Bath

For painful external hemorrhoids, warm water can be a great relief. A sitz bath is simply a hot bath for just the pelvic area. If you don’t have a commercial sitz bath bowl, you can fill your bathtub with several inches of very warm water. If the hemorrhoid pain is acute, try a sitz bath three times each day and after each bowel movement, if possible. Be sure to dry the area well after each bath.

4. Tried-and-True Over-the-Counter Remedies

In addition to a sitz bath, many hemorrhoid sufferers feel the need to keep the pressure of their body weight off the anal area when sitting. Most pharmacies sell the “donut” seat pillow, which allows you to keep the area “floated” while you sit. In addition, many sufferers have used hemorrhoid suppositories and ointments for years, usually with good results. Consult your pharmacist for additional details about which medications might provide the most relief for you, and ask about over-the-counter pain relievers that might be able to provide temporary relief.

5. Prevent Reoccurrences

The typical hemorrhoid will usually resolve itself within a week or two. The best way to avoid future hemorrhoids is to look closely at your diet. To remain regular and avoid constipation and the straining that goes along with it, extra fiber in the diet is usually the key. You can take over-the-counter fiber supplements, but your best bet is high-fiber foods such as bran, flax and other whole grains. Some experts also contend that extended sitting on the toilet–for instance, while catching up on the day’s newspaper–inhibits the blood supply and can lead to hemorrhoidal flare-ups.