External and internal hemorrhoids affect about 1 in 20 Americans, and about half of people over 50 have them. These enlarged blood vessels that develop around the lower rectum and anus can cause significant discomfort. Bowel movements often become painful, and itching and burning are common.
Managing hemorrhoid symptoms involves reducing flare-ups. Conservative treatment can relieve mild cases. Surgical options are reserved for complicated hemorrhoids and severe symptoms.
Nina Paonessa, DO, FAOS, is a board-certified general surgeon and proctologist, and a fellowship-trained colorectal surgeon. She routinely treats patients with hemorrhoids at Paonessa Colon & Rectal Surgery, PC, in Brielle and Manahawkin, New Jersey.
Most people will develop hemorrhoids at some point during their life. They often arise from increased pressure in the blood vessels in the pelvic and rectal region.
You’re more likely to get hemorrhoids if you:
- Are overweight
- Are pregnant
- Are over the age of 50
- Eat a low-fiber diet
- Strain during bowel movements
- Experience chronic constipation
- Have a family history of hemorrhoids
If you have symptoms of hemorrhoids, it’s important to seek evaluation from a medical professional before self-treating them.
Here are some simple and practical steps to avoid occasional hemorrhoid flare-ups and associated pain.
Increase your fiber intake
A staggering 95% of Americans fail to consume the recommended 25-30 grams of fiber each day. Getting enough fiber benefits your gut health and staves off hemorrhoids.
It’s a good idea to gradually increase your intake of fiber-rich foods. Excellent options include beans, legumes, oats, bran, barley, fruits, and vegetables. Cut back briefly if you experience bloating, gas, or stomach discomfort. These may be signs that you’re increasing your fiber intake too quickly.
Try over-the-counter creams
If you’re struggling with an episode of hemorrhoid pain, over-the-counter pads and creams can soothe and ease your sensitivity. OTC ointments relieve itching, pain, and swelling. If these products fail to provide relief, talk to your doctor about prescription-strength preparations.
Aerobic exercise is an excellent activity for hemorrhoids. Exercise relaxes tight and strained muscles in the lower part of the body and improves blood flow. Regular physical activity promotes bowel health and lowers the risk of constipation. Don’t forget to get enough water throughout the day, especially if you sweat during exercise.
If you’re unsure where to start, try brisk walking. Just 30 minutes a day of brisk walking is not only helpful for hemorrhoids, it benefits your overall health. It doesn’t require any special equipment, and you can do it almost anywhere.
Work with a gastroenterologist
If you have a history of hemorrhoids or are experiencing hemorrhoid symptoms, it’s wise to visit a gastroenterologist for an evaluation. If you’re diagnosed with hemorrhoids, your provider can put together an appropriate treatment plan to reduce the risk of flares and ease your symptoms.
Some hemorrhoids require medical management. Fortunately, we offer minimally invasive hemorrhoid treatments to bring you relief. To schedule an appointment at our Brielle or Manahawkin, New Jersey, office, call or book online using the website scheduling tool.