Hemorrhoids - and the High Fiber Hemorroid Connection
The term hemorrhoids refers to a condition in which stretched and weakened veins around the anus or lower rectum become swollen and inflamed. Hemorrhoids are either inside the anus (internal) or under the skin around the anus (external).
Many Americans will develop hemorrhoids at some point in their lives, up to 1/3 of the total population. Estimates have indicated that about half the population of men and women over 50 years of age have hemorrhoids.
Often people begin to develop hemorrhoids in their 20's, but hemorrhoidal symptoms usually do not become evident until the 30's. Factors contributing to hemorrhoids include, aging, chronic constipation or diarrhea, anal intercourse, and pregnancy. For most women, however, hemorrhoids caused by pregnancy are a temporary problem.
In contrast to the westernized countries, hemorrhoids are very uncommon in undeveloped countries because the diet of those people is bulky and fibrous. Western diets tend to be very limited in fiber resulting in stools that are dry, small, and hard. Not enough exercise, too much sitting, and years of straining during elimination ultimately weaken rectal tissue making hemorrhoids inevitable.
A high fiber diet
Fiber may be the most important component in the prevention of hemorrhoids. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes and grains keeps the feces soft, bulky and easy to pass. There is significantly less straining during elimination when consuming a high fiber diet.
Individuals consuming a low fiber diet and processed foods, tend to strain more during bowel movements since their smaller and harder stools are difficult to pass.
Unfortunately, some people think that the remedy is laxatives, but they make the problem worse by ignoring the real issue.
Many people rightly connect hemorrhoids with constipation: Straining on the toilet increases the pressure in the abdomen which then,increases pelvic congestion and may significantly weaken the veins, causing hemorrhoids.
When you change your diet to more roughage too abruptly, you could make matters worse and have diarrhea. So, gradually increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Begin to cut back on refined, processed foods. Eight glasses of water a day should be the minumum when you add more fiber to your diet.
Hemorrhoids usually are not dangerous or life threatening. In most cases, symptoms will go away within a few days. Although many people have hemorrhoids, not everyone with hemorrhoids experience symptoms.
The symptoms most often associated with hemorrhoids include burning, pain, inflammation, irritation, and swelling. Excessive straining, rubbing, or cleaning around the anus may cause irritation with bleeding and/or itching, which may produce a vicious cycle of symptoms. Draining mucus from prolapsing internal hemorrhoids may also cause itching.
Pain does not occur unless there is acute inflammation of external hemorrhoids with painful swelling or a hard lump around the anus that results when a blood clot forms. This condition is referred to as a thrombosed external hemorrhoid.
Uncomplicated internal hemorrhoids do not cause pain, however, an internal hemorrhoid may protrude through the anus outside the body, becoming irritated and painful. This is known as a protruding hemorrhoid.
How are hemorrhoids diagnosed?
When there is bleeding from the rectum or blood in the stool, see your doctor. The doctor will examine the anus and rectum to look for swollen blood vessels that indicate hemorrhoids and check for abnormalities.
To rule out other causes of gastrointestinal bleeding, the doctor may examine the rectum and lower colon with sigmoidoscopy or the entire colon with colonoscopy. These are diagnostic procedures that use lighted, flexible tubes inserted through the rectum.
You don't want to just treat symptoms. As with all diseases, the primary treatment of hemorrhoids is prevention.
If dietary changes to include more fiber do not produce soft, non-constipated stool, try a natural laxative like a bulking agent which attracts water and creates larger, softer stools.
Psyllium seed and guar guam induce a mild laxative action due to their ability to attract water.
Exercise, including walking, help reduce constipation and straining. Empty bowels as soon as possible after the urge occurs.
Topical treatments using hemrroidal creams, suppositories, ointments and anorectal pads can provide relief for the short term.
In addition to applying a topical ointment, a Sitz bath (soaking in a warm bath in three or four inches of water with your knees raised) can give relief by drawing blood to the area and reducing the swelling. Tub baths several times a day in plain, warm water for about 10 minutes also help.
High fiber recipes and high fiber menus go a very long way in preventing hemorrhoids and the re-occurance. Soothe those itshies by svoring those fruits, vegies and grains. Try these links to a world full of easy, luscious and healthful entrees and side dishes. It will make you happy where you sit!