If you have haemorrhoids, you're not alone. Far from it, in fact. 3 out of 10 adult Australians will suffer from haemorrhoids at some point in their lives .1
Haemorrhoids are caused by increased pressure on the blood vessels in your rectum. These blood vessels stretch and swell and you may begin to notice one or several symptoms, such as itchiness and pain. But, once you know what causes haemorrhoids, you’ll be well on your way to help prevent them.
Wondering what may cause this increased pressure? A few things:
- Constipation and straining during bowel movements – Straining when you are constipated is one of the major causes of haemorrhoids. Increase your intake of fresh fruit and fibre - they’ll make your trips to the bathroom much more manageable.
- Diarrhoea – prolonged bowel movements that have you sitting on the toilet for longer than usual can cause haemorrhoids.
- Heavy lifting - It can be weights at the gym or heavy boxes at work. Any activities that put pressure on your abdomen can increase your chances of having haemorrhoids, even something like slouching when you’re sitting, or prolonged sitting/standing.
- Obesity – Being obese can also put your abdomen under strain.
- A poor diet - A diet high in refined carbohydrates, low in fiber and lacking whole grains and fresh fruit and vegetables can contribute to inflammation and hemorrhoids. A lack of nutrients that support healthy vascular function can increase your risk for as well as the severity of haemorrhoids.
- Pregnancy and childbirth – The weight of your developing baby, constipation, and pushing during labour make haemorrhoids common. Mums can find more information here.
Adding to the above factors, your chances of experiencing hemorrhoids increase with age.2 So, if you are over 45, take extra notice of what you can do to decrease your chances of getting haemorrhoids.
There is plenty you can do about them
You can help relieve your haemorrhoids symptoms with over-the-counter and prescription medications. Simple lifestyle changes can also help prevent hemorrhoids and make them feel less painful.
2 Carruthers-Czyzewski, P. Hemorrhoids. In Patient Self-Care . Canadian Pharmacists Association 2002;287-293