You may find it embarrassing to talk about, but if you have hemorrhoids, you’re in good company. About 75% of us will experience the irritation, itching, and discomfort of hemorrhoids sometime in our life, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC).
Hemorrhoids are caused by swollen anal or rectal veins. Diseases and other conditions that cause long-term constipation or diarrhea, or changes in the veins of the rectum and anus, increase your risk of developing hemorrhoids.
Although hemorrhoids are generally not serious, the itching, pain and irritation often associated with hemorrhoids can get in the way of enjoying everyday life. Learn more about some common health conditions that can increase your risk of developing hemorrhoids and what you can do to reduce your chances of developing this unpleasant and uncomfortable condition.
Constipation can make you feel bloated and sluggish and it also increases the likelihood that you will develop hemorrhoids. If you regularly have hard, dry stools, you may have to sit on the toilet for a long period of time and strain to pass stool. This increases pressure on the veins in the rectum and anus that can lead to swelling and inflammation.
Constipation is often caused by a low-fiber diet, lack of exercise, and not drinking enough water. The good news is that constipation can often be prevented and treated by drinking plenty of water, getting regular exercise, and eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans), and whole grain cereals and breads.
For many women, the excitement and anticipation of pregnancy often go hand-in-hand with the inflammation and irritation of hemorrhoids. During pregnancy, your body experiences changes that can make you more prone to developing hemorrhoids.
As your uterus grows, especially in the third trimester of pregnancy, it puts pressure on the veins of the rectum and anus, causing them to swell. Compounding this problem is an increase in the hormone progesterone, which causes your veins to relax and swell more easily. Progesterone also slows down your intestinal tract, which can lead to constipation and straining to have a bowel movement, which further increase your risk of hemorrhoids.
After the birth of your baby, the symptoms of hemorrhoids should begin to go away, especially if you're careful to avoid constipation by eating a high-fiber diet, drinking plenty of water, and getting regular exercise.
Obesity and hemorrhoids share a common link: conditions that contribute to obesity also increase the risk of hemorrhoids. Risk factors for both conditions include eating a diet that lacks enough fiber, low levels of physical activity, and long periods of sitting.
By addressing these factors, you can reduce your risk of hemorrhoids while working to achieve a healthy weight. In addition, shrinking your waistline reduces the pressure that excessive weight puts on the veins of the rectum and anus that can lead to swelling and inflammation.
4. IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a very common gastrointestinal disorder that affects about one in five Americans, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). Irritable bowel syndrome is generally not serious, but it can be very uncomfortable. Typical symptoms of IBS include abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, constipation, and diarrhea.
If you have ongoing constipation or diarrhea due to IBS, you may have an increased risk of developing hemorrhoids. The good news is that the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, including constipation and diarrhea, are controllable by following your treatment plan, which may include medications, changes in diet, and reducing the amount of stress in your life.
5. Crohn's Disease
Crohn's disease, a form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Typical symptoms of Crohn’s disease include abdominal pain and swelling and frequent episodes of diarrhea, which increases your risk of developing hemorrhoids.