You often don’t realize what a privilege it is to sit comfortably without experiencing any pain or discomfort. It is only when you find yourself with hemorrhoids and sitting becomes a nightmare that you realize what you took for granted. In this article, you will learn all about what hemorrhoids are, how to sit with hemorrhoids, and what other methods you can use to treat the symptoms.
What are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are distended blood vessels in the anal and rectal regions. Hemorrhoids in the rectum are referred to as internal hemorrhoids whereas those in the anus are called external hemorrhoids.
The symptoms that characterize external hemorrhoids include pain, itchiness, and feeling hard lumps in the anal region. Internal hemorrhoids are painless because the rectum lacks pain receptors. However, when you experience painless bleeding that you notice on stool or on toilet paper, this may be an indicator that you have internal hemorrhoids but you should have your doctor examine you to ascertain this and rule out other conditions.
In some cases, internal and external hemorrhoids protrude out of the anus and they become known as prolapsed hemorrhoids. They make sitting and standing very difficult. Depending on the degree of their severity, they can either be pushed back or may completely refuse to retract.
Why Do Hemorrhoids Develop?
Hemorrhoids form when the blood vessels are pressed so much that they swell with engorged blood. This can happen because of several reasons:
- Straining while moving bowels -When you frequently suffer from hemorrhoids, the undue pressure on the veins of the rectum and anus may result in hemorrhoids.
- Chronic diarrhea – Just like passing hard stool puts strain on the rectum and anus, so does passing stool too frequently because of diarrhea. It leaves the areas sore and inflamed.
- Sitting for too long – When you sit on your office chair, couch, or toilet for too long, the tissues in the rectum and anus stretch, and their blood vessels bulge out and distend.
- Pregnancy – When women are in their second and third trimester of pregnancy, the heavy weight of the fetus rests on their pelvis and this puts pressure on the blood vessels in the anus and rectum. The hyperactive hormones in pregnancy also cause abnormal swelling of blood vessels in the body.
- Vaginal childbirth – When a woman gives birth naturally, the blood vessels of the rectum and anus are pressed so hard hemorrhoids may develop after childbirth.
- Obesity or being overweight – Your body can only carry so much weight before it starts developing problems. When you’re obese or overweight, the blood vessels on the lower parts of the body are put under a lot of pressure. Therefore, hemorrhoids are more likely to develop than in a person with a normal weight.
- Getting older – The highest prevalence of hemorrhoids among Americans is between ages 45 and 65. This is because tissues of the rectum and anus wear out with time so any pressure they’re subjected to can quickly lead to hemorrhoids.
Do Hemorrhoids Hurt When You Sit?
Hemorrhoids hurt when you’re sitting down because it puts more pressure on them. It’s even worse when there are prolapsed hemorrhoids. Sitting on the toilet to move your bowels causes the most pain because not only are you sitting but stool is also grazing the surface of the hemorrhoids as they pass down the rectum and anus. Sometimes, this may result in bleeding.
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How to Sit Comfortably with Hemorrhoids
Sitting when you have hemorrhoids is a tricky situation because it can really hurt. Below are some of the best sitting positions for hemorrhoids to make it a little more bearable:
Cushion Your Butt
Sitting on hard surfaces can be rough if you have hemorrhoids because it stretches the anorectal tissues and causes pain. You can make this less painful by putting a soft pillow on these hard chairs. You can also purchase an inflatable ‘donut’ pillow from your local drugstore so that you can sit without letting the anorectal tissues come into contact with a hard surface.
Change How You Sit on the Toilet
Before the invention of the modern Western toilet, everyone in the world defecated by squatting above a hole in the ground or in the woods. The squatting position is the best when it comes to passing stool quickly and easily. This is because it allows stool to pass down a direct route out of the anus.
If you can’t get access to a toilet that will make you squat, put your feet on a low bench or pile of books as you sit on the toilet. This will prevent you from straining while moving your bowels and avoid irritating the hemorrhoids.
Furthermore, you should avoid sitting on the toilet for too long by doing things like leaving your phone or book out of your bathroom trips.
Take Breaks from Sitting
If you sit on your desk working for most of the day or you enjoy watching TV for hours on end, it could be the reason your hemorrhoids hurt so much. Blood pools in the anal and rectal area when you sit for too long and causes even more inflammation and pain.
To relieve the pain of hemorrhoids, you need to take breaks from sitting. Take a walk around every now and then to take the pressure off the hemorrhoids. You can also get an adjustable desk that allows you to stand and sit as you work so you can keep switching between the two.
Use a Towel Roll
When you sit, put a rolled-up towel under your upper thighs so that your buttocks are off the chair and the sensitive hemorrhoids are not directly on it. It takes the pressure off the pelvic floor so the blood vessels in the anus and rectum are not pressed down.
Other Methods to Help Relieve Hemorrhoid Pain
Learning how to sit with hemorrhoid pain is just the beginning. There are other ways you can relieve hemorrhoid pain and they include:
Keep the Anal Area Clean and Dry
When you wear tight and unbreathable underwear, the anal region gets hot and sweaty which aggravates the itchiness and discomfort of the hemorrhoids. You should instead, wear loose and breathable fabrics like cotton to keep the anal area dry. Additionally, clean the area thoroughly and wipe it completely dry. Avoid using harsh deodorants and soaps which will only cause further irritation.
Sleep in the Right Position
Painful hemorrhoids may be a result of the way you sleep. Sleeping on your back puts undue pressure on hemorrhoids and this hurts. You should instead sleep on your stomach and put a pillow underneath your hips so that you don’t roll onto your back in the middle of the night.
Have a Sitz Bath
A sitz bath is a shallow basin that you can fill with warm water and fit over your toilet. After a bowel movement, you sit in it for about 15 to 20 minutes so that you can relieve the flare-ups that are bound to follow afterward. The warm water soothes the pain, itchiness, and reduces inflammation by improving blood circulation in the anorectal blood vessels.
Take Plenty of Fiber and Water
Soluble fiber and insoluble fiber make stool softer and add bulk to it respectively so that it’s able to pass down the gut easily. Having good amounts of it in every meal you take will prevent you from constipating.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance that softens stool. Therefore, you need to drink at least 8 glasses of water daily in order to prevent constipation.
Taking a fiber-rich diet is an effective method of softening stool but it takes some time to work. If you want a more immediate solution, mix a tablespoon of mineral oil with 4-8 ounces of prune juice and drink to lubricate your stool. You should only take this once a day because it makes stool watery so you’ll risk having stool leakage.
Engaging in intense physical activities like running, walking, jogging, swimming, and dancing helps in relieving constipation. It speeds up the digestion process so stool comes out quickly before it has time to harden.
Take precautions in the kinds of exercise you do. Some exercises like heavy lifting and cycling do more harm than good because they put more pressure on the hemorrhoids.
Exercising also helps you cut down on excess weight so excessive pressure is taken off the hemorrhoids.
Take ice and put it inside a towel and press it on the painful hemorrhoids. The same way it works in relieving the pain and inflammation of sports injuries is the same way it will work on hemorrhoids.
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Over-the-counter topical treatments and medications for hemorrhoids pain are readily available in drugstores. They are made with ingredients that have properties to relieve pain, itchiness, and even bleeding. You can also take regular painkillers to temporarily alleviate the pain.
If the pain persists after taking medication, seek the help of a doctor who could recommend that you get the hemorrhoids removed through medical procedures.
If you have unknowingly been causing pain in your hemorrhoids because of how you sit, you now know strategies on how to sit comfortably with hemorrhoids. These lifestyle changes will make a big difference in your recovery journey and put you on the express way towards a hemorrhoids-free life!