If you’re experiencing unusual symptoms during or after a bowel movement, like bright red blood on the toilet tissue, mucus on your underwear, lumps around the bottom, feeling like you still need to go, or general pain and itchiness around the anus, you might be suffering from haemorrhoids (piles).
In many cases, the symptoms of piles can be fairly mild, however, for some people they can become rather bothersome and get in the way of everyday life if they are more severe. Haemorrhoids do often go away on their own but there are also a few things you can do to help avoid making the symptoms worse.
1. Eat plenty of fibre
Constipation is one of the reasons people can develop piles, as difficulty passing a stool can result in increased straining and pressure on the blood vessels around the bottom. It’s this pressure which causes them to swell up and develop into the condition known as haemorrhoids. Fibre foods like some fruits, vegetables, and wholegrains help to maintain healthy digestion by encouraging regular movements and keeping our stools soft. So, if you’re suffering from piles and think it could be linked to constipation, try eating more fibre to help ease the symptoms. You can find a list of good and bad foods for haemorrhoids here.
2. Drink lots of water
Much like eating more fibre, drinking plenty of fluids (especially water) is a good way to keep your stools soft and manageable. When we are dehydrated there is less moisture in our poo which makes them harder to pass. If you’re already suffering from haemorrhoids, straining on the toilet can put even more unwanted pressure on the blood vessels and aggravate an already sensitive area.
In addition to water, you could also drink prune juice. As a natural laxative, prune juice will help make your stools softer and easier to pass.
3. Sit on a pillow
External or prolapsed haemorrhoids can make something as simple as sitting down particularly painful, as they tend to be more exposed than internal haemorrhoids. With many of us working desk jobs, sitting down for 8 hours a day can be unavoidable and yet the last thing you need if you have piles.
If you can, try sitting on a pillow to soften the surface underneath you, lessening the impact of your body pushing the haemorrhoids up against the surface of the chair you’re sat on. This should help you to avoid making the haemorrhoids feel worse.
4. Stand up while you work
If you’re lucky and your workplace offers adjustable desks, you could try standing up to work for some of the time. Aside from helping to relieve some of the discomfort of haemorrhoids, there are many other health benefits from using standing desks, including lowering the risk of weight gain and obesity, which can be another cause of haemorrhoids.
5. Take a break
Of course, not everyone has the luxury of being able to sit on a pillow all day or have a standing desk. Understandably, you may also not want to draw attention to yourself or the condition ̶ although piles is very common and is likely to affect 3 out of 4 of us at some point in our lives.
Instead, you could try to take frequent breaks to get up and walk around, even if it’s just for 5 minutes every hour or so. While you’re up, it’s the perfect opportunity to grab a glass of water, keeping hydrated and also helping to avoid constipation.
This should help to alleviate the discomfort that comes from sitting down for long periods and help prevent making the symptoms of haemorrhoids worse.
6. Fit in some light exercise
Regular exercise could help to prevent haemorrhoids from getting worse as it increases the blood flow in the body, which in turn speeds up the healing process.
Also, staying active can help to prevent your digestive system from getting blocked up and constipated. Even a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day can do the trick.
You could also change up your exercise regime and try swimming and yoga, which are alternatives to walking that don’t put too much stress on your rectum. Whilst suffering from haemorrhoids, try to avoid exercises that can put increased strain on the blood vessels around the bottom and contribute to haemorrhoids.
If you find that the symptoms of piles are just too much to bear, there are numerous treatments you can find at your local pharmacy or supermarket to help bring relief, such as Germoloids. And, if you’re not sure if you have piles, your pharmacist will be able to help and advise you on the available treatment options suitable for you.