Banish your itchy, painful hemorrhoids for good.
Mindlessly scrolling through your phone is a great way to pass time on the toilet, but it may become a pain in your ass: People who read in the bathroom may be more likely to develop hemorrhoids.
That’s because hemorrhoids—which are normal vascular structures that everyone has in their anal canal—can become enlarged and painful when there’s an increased pressure against the connective tissues that normally keep them in place, says Anish Sheth, M.D., a gastroenterologist at the University Medical Center of Princeton in New Jersey.
Sitting on the toilet for long periods of time strains, irritates, and inflames those connective tissues, says Dr. Sheth. The same thing can happen if you’re constipated or if you sit in the same position at a desk or in a car.
Some men may even experience hemorrhoids if they lift heavy loads at the gym, says Dr. Sheth. You contract the same abdominals muscles as you do when you’re pooping, which can stress the tissues around your anus.
Do any of those things often enough, there’s a good chance you may experience enlarged hemorrhoids. In fact, about 75 percent of people will have hemorrhoid at some point in their lives, according to the National Institutes of Health.
There Are Two Types of Hemorrhoids
1. External hemorrhoids are located under the skin around your anus, and can form a small, hard bulge around your butthole. They can also cause bleeding, painful swelling, and itching.
2. Internal hemorrhoids are found in your rectum—the lowest part of your large intestines—and usually aren’t painful. But they may cause bleeding that shows up in your stool, when you wipe, or in the toilet after you poop.
You chances of getting hemorrhoids increase as you get older, too, says Dr. Sheth. The connective tissues lining your anal canal get weaker with age, allowing your blood vessels to bulge more easily when they’re irritated or stressed, he says.
How to Treat Hemorrhoids
The good news: Hemorrhoids aren’t hard to treat.
Your first line of defense is to try an over-the-counter cream, ointment, or suppository that contains the steroid hydrocortisone. This drug helps reduce inflammation, pain, and itching.
“If your symptoms don’t clear up within about a week, make an appointment with your primary care doctor,” says Gina Sam, M.D., director of the Gastrointestinal Motility Center at the Mount Sinai Hospital.
“You may need a prescription medication that contains a combination of hydrocortisone and lidocaine to better control you swelling and pain,” she says.
Hemorrhoids still giving you pain? Ask your doctor to refer you to a gastroenterologist or proctologist.
The specialists can treat severe cases of hemorrhoids or any complications, such as a blood clot, persistent bleeding, or a prolapse—which is an internal hemorrhoid that pops out of your anus.
In these scenarios, you may have to undergo a minimally invasive or surgical procedure to shrink your hemorrhoids.
How to Stop Hemorrhoids From Returning
To keep them from returning, address the underlying causes, Dr. Sam says.
Constipation: Increase your fiber and water intake. Shoot for at least 25 grams of fiber per day from sources such as oatmeal, prunes, fruits, vegetables, and beans, says Dr. Sheth.
Sitting: If you’re a desk jockey, get up and move around every 20 minutes to prevent a buildup of pressure in a single area.
And keep your phone out of the bathroom. “Don’t sit longer than you have to,” says Dr. Sheth.
Lifting: You don’t need to stop squatting and deadlifting, but you may need to lighten the load if symptoms reoccur again and again, Dr. Sheth says.
Source: Men’s Health
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