by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center

Hemorrhoids, also called piles, are swollen and inflamed veins around your anus or in your lower rectum. There are two types of hemorrhoids: the external hemorrhoid and the internal hemorrhoid. 

Hemorrhoids are normal in all individuals from birth. These vascular structures or “cushions” help regulate bowel movements at the end of the rectum. People who experience the discomfort of hemorrhoids are often dealing with enlarged hemorrhoids.

Many people are reluctant to talk about their problems with hemorrhoids, but this is a common issue and can cause challenges for many people’s quality of life.

Hemorrhoids are common in both men and women, equally, and affect about 1 in 20 Americans. About half of adults older than age 50 have hemorrhoids.

Are There Complications from Hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids sometimes cause complications, including blood clots in an external hemorrhoid, skin tags (extra skin left behind when a blood clot in an external hemorrhoid dissolves), and an infection from a sore on an external hemorrhoid. The hemorrhoid can also become strangulated when the muscles cut off the blood supply to an internal hemorrhoid that has fallen through.

Symptoms and Causes of Hemorrhoids

The symptoms of hemorrhoids depend on the type you have. If you have external hemorrhoids, you may have anal itching, one or more hard tender lumps, and an ache or pain, especially when sitting.

Also, be aware that too much straining, rubbing, or cleaning around that area may make your symptoms worse. For many people, the symptoms of external hemorrhoids go away within a few days.

If you have internal hemorrhoids, you may have bleeding from your rectum (bright red blood on stool, on toilet paper, or in the toilet bowl after a bowel movement) or a hemorrhoid that has fallen through the opening, called a prolapse. Internal hemorrhoids that are not prolapsed most often are not painful. Prolapsed internal hemorrhoids may cause pain and discomfort.

Keep in mind that although hemorrhoids are the most common cause of these symptoms, not every symptom is caused by a hemorrhoid. Some hemorrhoid symptoms are similar to those of other digestive tract problems. For example, bleeding from your rectum may be a sign of bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or cancer of the colon or rectum.

Ways to Treat Hemorrhoids

You can try treating your hemorrhoids at home for a week by making some lifestyle changes. Try adding foods high in fiber to your diet, or take a fiber supplement such as psyllium. Make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day, and stop straining during bowel movements. Also, do not sit on the toilet for long periods and avoid regular heavy lifting.

If your hemorrhoids are painful, you can try sitting in a tub of warm water (called a Sitz bath) several times a day to help relieve the pain. You can also try applying over-the-counter hemorrhoid creams or ointments made for hemorrhoids, which may relieve mild pain, swelling, and itching from external hemorrhoids.

Also, maintaining a healthy digestive system is one of the simplest ways you can prevent and treat uncomfortable hemorrhoids. Increasing oral fluids is one of the first lifestyle changes recommended to patients struggling to find relief from their hemorrhoids. Optimal hydration improves lymphatic drainage and has total body inflammation-reducing effects.

Straining the abdomen and pelvic floor muscles while having a bowel movement may be easily treated by avoiding constipation. Hydrating throughout the day with purified water is a great way to loosen stool, making bowel movements easier.

Our toilets may be one reason that people suffer from hemorrhoids. Once you find your way to the toilet, do not sit, but rather squat. One tip on doing so is to have a step stool nearby your toilet, on which you can then place your feet.

Squatting is common in undeveloped countries and is a natural position to go to the bathroom. Doing so removes strain off the rectum while relaxing muscles, which better allows the passing of a bowel movement and prevents bleeding from swollen veins. Furthermore, when you have the urge to use the bathroom, allow your body to have a bowel movement immediately rather than waiting, thus avoiding problems like constipation, which can lead to hemorrhoids.

Following are some more helpful tips to help you avoid hemorrhoids. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which can cause dehydration and constipation. Avoid both unhealthy fats like fried foods and processed foods and certain spices, which can irritate and worsen hemorrhoids. Eat well and add fiber-rich fruits and vegetables into your diet to improve digestion and decrease the transit time that stool sits in the colon. Eliminate any known allergens from your diet that can cause constipation: common triggers include gluten, eggs, dairy, and shellfish. Include fermented foods into your daily meals to maintain healthy gut bacteria and improve stool evacuation from the digestive tract. Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is a common risk factor that is associated with hemorrhoids. Exercising regularly increases the likelihood of having a regular bowel movement. Do not wait for a big urge to use the bathroom. The bowel not only loses its softness from water being taken back up into the body, but it also allows toxins to be absorbed as well, so try to train your bowels to evacuate by squatting on the toilet the same time every day. Try to limit being seated for long periods; doing so puts pressure on the veins, the same as if you were sitting on a toilet for too long.

Foods You May Want to Avoid If You Have Hemorrhoids

If you have hemorrhoids, your doctor may recommend eating more foods that are high in fiber and avoiding foods that have little or no fiber, such as cheese, chips, fast food, ice cream, processed meats, microwavable dinners, and prepared packaged foods and snack foods such as cakes, cookies, candy, and so forth.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Better yet, come to our Free Nutritional Seminars held on the third Wednesday of every month. Call us for the time of the class. Dr. Lo will demonstrate Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body and determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health.

The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107 in Frederick. Check out the website at office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107 in Frederick. Check out the website at


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