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How to manage hemorrhoids: lifestyle changes and tips for relief

Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are a common yet uncomfortable condition affecting many individuals. These swollen and inflamed veins, can cause pain, itching, and bleeding. In this comprehensive guide, we'll discuss lifestyle changes and tips that can help you manage and relieve the discomfort caused by hemorrhoids.

Understanding hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are veins in the anal canal that can become swollen and inflamed, leading to pain and discomfort. There are 2 types: internal and external. Internal hemorrhoids are located in the lower rectum, while external hemorrhoids develop under the skin around the anus.1

The primary causes of hemorrhoids include increased pressure due to pregnancy, obesity, or straining during bowel movements. Other factors that contribute to the development of hemorrhoids are chronic constipation, prolonged sitting on the toilet, and poor food habits such as a lack of fiber in the diet.1

7 lifestyle changes and tips to manage hemorrhoids

Increase your fiber intake

A fiber-rich diet is essential for preventing and managing hemorrhoids. Fiber can soften stools, increase their bulk, and reduce the need for straining during bowel movements. Good sources of dietary fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fiber supplements. If you're new to a high-fiber diet, incorporate it gradually to minimize gas and bloating.2

Stay hydrated

Drinking adequate water is crucial for maintaining a healthy digestive system and preventing constipation. Staying hydrated can help soften stools and make them easier to pass, reducing the pressure on hemorrhoid-prone blood vessels. Aim for at least 8 glasses of water per day, and more if you're physically active or live in a hot climate.3

Exercise regularly

Regular physical activity can improve bowel function and help prevent constipation, reducing the risk of hemorrhoids. Aim for at least 1½ hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week, such as brisk walking, or swimming. However, avoid heavy weight-lifting exercises that increase abdominal pressure, as these may exacerbate existing hemorrhoids.3

Take sitz baths

A sitz bath is a warm water bath for the buttocks and hips that can provide relief from hemorrhoid-related itching, irritation, and pain. To prepare a sitz bath, fill a shallow tub with a few inches of tepid water and add Epsom salts if desired. Soak for 15 minutes, then gently pat the area dry with a soft cloth.3

Maintain a regular bowel schedule

Establishing a regular bowel schedule can help prevent constipation and reduce the risk of developing hemorrhoids. Avoid delaying bowel movements, as this can lead to harder stools and increased straining. Set aside a specific time each day, such as after a meal, to sit on the toilet for a few minutes and encourage regular bowel habits.4

Don't linger on the toilet

Prolonged sitting on the toilet can increase pressure on the anal blood vessels, raising the risk of hemorrhoids. To avoid this, treat your time in the bathroom as a necessity rather than a leisurely escape. Refrain from reading, browsing social media, or playing games on your phone while on the toilet.5

Seek medical advice

When you start to feel hemorrhoidal symptoms such as itching, bleeding, or anal pain you should consult your doctor immediately for a proper evaluation and treatment plan. Not all hemorrhoid treatment options are surgical, like topicals or venoactive drugs for example, but only your doctor can know what’s best for your situation!

Hemorrhoids can be an uncomfortable and painful condition, but with the right lifestyle changes and self-care measures, you can help manage and alleviate the symptoms. Implementing these tips can help you prevent hemorrhoids from developing or worsening, allowing you to enjoy a more comfortable life. Remember to consult a doctor if you have symptoms, as they can recommend the appropriate treatment options for your specific situation.

Show references


Lohsiriwat V. Hemorrhoids: from basic pathophysiology to clinical management. World J Gastroenterol. 2012 May 7;18(17):2009-17. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v18.i17.2009. PMID: 22563187; PMCID: PMC3342598.
Johanson JF, Sonnenberg A. The prevalence of hemorrhoids and chronic constipation. An epidemiologic study. Gastroenterology. 1990 Feb;98(2):380-6. doi: 10.1016/0016-5085(90)90828-o. PMID: 2295392.
Johannsson HO, Graf W, Påhlman L. Bowel habits in hemorrhoid patients and normal subjects. Am J Gastroenterol. 2005 Feb;100(2):401-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2005.40195.x. PMID: 15667500.
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