According to the National Coffee Association, 62% of Americans drink coffee every day so it’s safe to say that it’s a staple in the American diet. There’s nothing like a hot cup of joe to kickstart your day and keep you warm on cold winters. However, could your beloved cup of coffee be the reason you’ll get hemorrhoids or aggravate existing ones? What is the relationship between coffee and hemorrhoids and should you be cutting down on your coffee consumption? You’ll get all the answers you need right here.
Hemorrhoids are distended blood vessels in the membrane linings of the anus and rectum. They form as a result of the rectum and anus being placed under great pressure. This pressure can come from straining to pass stool, chronic diarrhea, sitting for too long, obesity, pregnancy and childbirth, anal sex, and doing strenuous exercises.
The symptoms that commonly characterize hemorrhoids are itchiness, pain, and irritation in the anal region. These are symptoms that point to the presence of external hemorrhoids which are hemorrhoids in the anus.
Hemorrhoids in the rectum (internal hemorrhoids) may be present but you may not realize it because they don’t cause any pain. This is because pain receptors are absent in the rectum. The only sign of their presence is rectal bleeding which you’ll notice on the stool or if they are pushed out of the anus (prolapsed hemorrhoids). Bleeding can also occur when you have a thrombosed hemorrhoid which is a hemorrhoid with a blood clot. The obstruction of blood flow makes it fill with so much blood that it eventually bursts.
Coffee has a diuretic effect meaning that it will make you pass urine more than usual. As this happens, it draws water out of the stool in your system so it dries up. This makes you suffer from constipation which is the leading cause of hemorrhoids. Constipation makes you strain while moving your bowels so the blood vessels in your anus and rectum swell with engorged blood.
Coffee also has a stimulating effect on the digestive system so if you drink it in excessive amounts, it might lead to diarrhea. Diarrhea is just as damaging to the blood vessels of the rectum and anus as constipation. When you frequently pass stool, it leaves the anus raw and inflamed. To compound matters, wiping after every bowel movement is irritating to the anus so it leads to further inflammation. Hemorrhoids are likely to develop because of this.
To answer your question, ‘Is coffee bad for hemorrhoids?’ Yes, it can directly lead to hemorrhoids by causing constipation.
Coffee has one of the highest contents of caffeine but it’s not the only source of caffeine. Some of the foods that also contain caffeine are tea, energy drinks, cocoa, chocolate, coffee-flavored snacks like cookies, ice cream, and cereals. Although decaffeinated coffee is touted for not having caffeine, it contains little amounts. If you drink many cups of it, it can eventually add up to the caffeine in a regular cup of coffee.
Since drinking excessive amounts of coffee can lead to constipation or diarrhea, it can irritate pre-existing hemorrhoids because it causes further strain to the rectum and anus. However, not everyone who has hemorrhoids and drinks a lot of coffee will develop or irritate their hemorrhoids. If you’re one of the people who suffer from constipation or diarrhea after drinking coffee or taking other caffeinated foods, it’s better to avoid them until your hemorrhoids have healed.
Coffee is an addiction for many and cutting down on intake is not easy by any means. If you decide to suddenly completely cut off coffee from your diet, you’ll suffer from terrible withdrawal symptoms like migraines. Therefore, you need to do it systematically, and here are a few tips on how you can do that:
A good place to start to cut down on your coffee addiction is starting to drink coffee with half the amount of caffeine that you usually take. Your system will still get its endorphin rush but it will give you a head start towards completely quitting caffeine.
Track how many cups of coffee you take in a day and swap one or two of them with a beverage with less caffeine like green tea or decaffeinated coffee. Keep swapping more cups with the alternative until you no longer drinking any regular coffee.
This gradual change allows your body to take the transition a little smoother. You can then permanently settle on the healthier alternative like green tea or any other beverage of your choice.
You can also drink just enough coffee to give you the effect you’re going for and avoid drinking any more the entire day. This will guard you against taking excessive amounts of coffee.
After overcoming your coffee addiction, you can substitute it with water. It quenches your thirst for a drink and at the same time, it softens your stool so that you don’t constipate.
The reason you thoroughly enjoy your cup of coffee and feel alert afterward is that it causes your brain to release feel-good hormones, endorphins. Just like in overcoming drug addiction, coffee addiction needs to be replaced with another adaptive behavior so that you can avoid going back to square one. Exercising is a good alternative because it leads to the release of the same hormones so you can replace it with coffee. It will not only keep you alert but also speed up the digestion process for the smoother movement of your bowels.
Caffeine and hemorrhoids for the most part don’t mix well. It will, therefore, be prudent of you to give up on or caffeine or at least reduce it considerably. It’s a small price to pay to avoid the misery of hemorrhoids. Read more about How To Get Rid Of Hemorrhoids For Good: Types, Causes And Treatments.