The Most Common Causes of Hemorrhoids and How to Avoid Them

Learn how to prevent hemorrhoids.

If you have hemorrhoids, you’re not alone: More than half of adults over the age of 50 have them. Sometimes hemorrhoids have no known causes, but certain conditions or situations raise your chances of developing hemorrhoids, which are also known as piles.

What can you do to avoid hemorrhoids? Dr. Maria Palafox, a general surgeon in San Antonio, Texas, shares the following common causes of hemorrhoids, along with advice about reducing your risk of getting them.

Straining to pass bowel movements

Hemorrhoids may develop as a result of pressure on the veins in your rectum (the final section of your large intestine) or anus (the opening through which bowel movements leave your body). Pressing down hard to move your bowels puts a lot of pressure on those veins and can cause them to swell or become inflamed.

To avoid straining, take steps to prevent constipation and leave yourself enough time to empty your bowels naturally, without straining.

Chronic constipation

Constipation is a condition in which you have trouble passing bowel movements or you pass hard, dry stools that require straining to eliminate them from your body. People with chronic constipation have a higher risk of hemorrhoids because the effort they exert while passing stools adds heavy pressure to veins in the anus and rectum.

To prevent constipation, take the following steps:

Some medications and health conditions lead to constipation, so be sure to tell your doctor if you struggle with constipation.

Eating a low-fiber diet

Choosing low-fiber foods on a regular basis can make hemorrhoids more likely. That’s because a diet that’s made up mostly of low-fiber foods such as meat, processed foods, and “white” carbohydrates (white bread, white rice, white pasta) contribute to constipation.

High-fiber foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes add bulk to your diet and your stools. And although it sounds counterintuitive, bulky stools are the best kind of stools because they move more easily through your intestines and require less straining to pass.

Pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, the weight of your baby’s body pressing on your rectum or anus can boost your chances of getting hemorrhoids.

To protect yourself from pregnancy hemorrhoids, get plenty of exercise, drink water and eat high-fiber foods to stay regular, do Kegel exercises, sleep on your side rather than your back, and avoid straining to pass bowel movements.

Inactivity

Sitting for long periods of time places pressure on your bottom, which increases hemorrhoid risk. And sedentary living boosts your chances of developing constipation.

Protect yourself by being active on a regular basis. You don’t have to run marathons; a brisk walk provides plenty of benefits. Aim for a half-hour a day of activity most days of the week. If you’re sedentary, start with a few minutes of exercise a day and add more over time.

If you work a job that requires lots of sitting, get up and walk around frequently, even if just for a few minutes here and there.

Excess weight

Being overweight or obese places pressure on your anal and rectal veins, so do your best to maintain a healthy weight through exercise and healthy eating. And get moving, even if it doesn’t lead to weight loss.

If you have hemorrhoid-related pain, bleeding, or itching, Dr. Palafox can help. She can treat stubborn hemorrhoids using surgical or laser procedures that shrink or remove them when conservative measures don’t work. Call our office or book online for an appointment at one of her two San Antonio locations.

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