Constipation is very common as it affects about 20% of Americans and is responsible for 8 million of the hospital visits annually. Constipation in itself doesn’t just give you a difficult time in the toilet but can also cause other problems. Hemorrhoids and constipation are inextricably intertwined in that the latter causes the former. Chronic constipation puts so much pressure on your anal and rectal regions that hemorrhoids may end up developing.
What are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids or otherwise known as piles is a condition where the blood vessels of the anus and rectum become enlarged or distended. The symptoms that accompany the condition include inflammation, pain, itchiness, and bleeding and they flare up mostly after bowel movements. Hemorrhoids occur when a lot of pressure is put on the rectal and anal blood vessels to an extent of interfering with their circulation so they become swollen with blood. The factors that exert pressure on this area include obesity, pregnancy, sitting for too long, diarrhoea, and constipation.
Constipation Symptoms and Causes
The symptoms of constipation are as follows:
- Straining during bowel movements
- Bowel movements are painful
- Passing stool less than three times a week
- Passing dry, hard, or lumpy stool
- Feeling unable to completely empty stool from the rectum
- Feeling a blockage in the rectum that’s interfering with passing stool
- Needing help in pass stool such as pressing your abdomen or inserting a finger into the rectum to remove stool.
Causes of Constipation
Constipation is caused when stool moves too slowly down the digestive tract so it becomes hard and dry. Passing it out of the rectum therefore, becomes difficult and painful.
Chronic constipation may be caused by:
- Blockages in the intestines or colon
- Problems with the nerves and muscles in the colon and rectum that facilitate movement of stool
- An imbalance in the hormones that regulate the fluids in the body which may be caused by conditions like pregnancy, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and hyperthyroidism
How Can You Get Hemorrhoids from Constipation?
Struggling to pass hard stool puts a lot of stress on the blood vessels in the rectum and anus. This can result in them swelling with blood since smooth flow is hindered so you may develop hemorrhoids.
What Can Hemorrhoids from Constipation Cause?
When you have hemorrhoids from constipation, you may experience bleeding during bowel movements. You will notice the blood on the toilet paper or in the toilet. This happens when hard stool scrapes the surface of the hemorrhoids and causes injury.
Blood clots may form inside a blood clot and this is known as a thrombosed hemorrhoid. It eventually bursts and causes bleeding for a short period. Skin tags may also result when a hemorrhoid shrinks and leaves loose skin behind.
Pregnancy: Hemorrhoids and Constipation
Hemorrhoids and constipation are a common problem during pregnancy. Constipation occurs because pregnancy hormones slow down the rate of food passing down the gastrointestinal tract. This results in stool getting hard so bowel movements end up being less frequent and more difficult.
Constipation can also be caused by the iron found in prenatal vitamins. Straining because of constipation leads to swelling of the veins in the rectum and anus during pregnancy. The weight of the expanded uterus also presses on the pelvis and causes the distending of these veins. The hormonal imbalance in pregnancy also causes abnormal swelling of blood vessels in the body. The vessels of the rectum and anus also fall victim to this and lead to hemorrhoids.
How Can You Prevent Constipation?
Preventing constipation will save you from having to ever deal with uncomfortable hemorrhoids and other complications like anal fissures, rectal prolapses, and fecal impactions.
Here are some steps you can take to prevent constipation:
Eat More Fiber
Increasing the fiber intake in your diet will go a long way in preventing constipation. Fiber makes passing stool easier and more frequent. Insoluble fibers like whole grain, wheat bran, and some vegetables add bulk to the stool and help them move faster through the digestive tract. Soluble fibers like nuts, legumes, some fruits, vegetables, bran, and seeds, on the other hand, draw water from the gut to form a gel-like substance that softens the stool.
Drink More Water
Dehydration makes constipation worse because stool dries up faster. Drinking plenty of water will keep you hydrated and soften stool to make it easier to pass. Drink 6 to 8 glasses of sparkling water daily to prevent constipation.
If you need one more reason to drink coffee, constipation is it! It stimulates muscles in the gut so the stool is passed down easily and faster. Drinking coffee, therefore, gives you the urge to empty your bowels. However, if you’re pregnant, you should only drink one cup of coffee and no more.
Exerting your body physically keeps stool moving and prevents constipation. You can exercise by jogging, walking, cycling, running, swimming, and doing aerobics. Exercising also helps you cut down on excess weight and reduces the pressure on the lower parts of the body. This, in turn, reduces the incidence of hemorrhoids. Read 4 step guide – How to get rid of hemorrhoids – HERE.
An imbalance of bacteria in your gut may be causing you constipation. Eating probiotic foods will increase the number of useful bacteria in your gut and correct this imbalance. These foods include yogurt, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh, and miso. You can alternatively take probiotic supplements that you can buy in your local drugstore or online.
If none of these preventive steps work, your constipation could be because of an underlying medical condition. Seek medical help if you suspect the issue could be more serious.