It seems like any other day — you’re at work, going about your usual routine, uploading an early morning number two into the porcelain cloud. Everything seems like it’s going smoothly, but then you notice something scary: Blood when you wipe. And you didn’t even wipe that hard! A million thoughts race through your mind. Why am I bleeding from the inside out? What did I eat?? Do I have cancer??!
Chances are, you have hemorrhoids.
What exactly are hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lower part of your rectum and anus. Occasionally the walls of these blood vessels can stretch so thin that the veins bulge and get irritated, especially when you poop. This all happens thanks to a buildup of pressure in your lower rectum that affects blood flow, making the veins there swell. Leading causes of this butt blight are pushing too hard during bowel movements; straining from doing something physically demanding, like lifting heavy objects; and standing or sitting for too long. Bad dieting is also a major contributor.
Some subtle hints you may have this annoyance are an itchy rectum, blood in your stool and blood on your TP.
So what do I do about it?
Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician and see what they find. If you do indeed have hemorrhoids, congratulations: You, and according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, 10.4 million others in the U.S. also suffer from this colon gremlin. But only 3.5 million people (one in three!) seek medical treatment each year. After consulting an M.D. and getting to the bottom of what’s going on with, well, your bottom, the next step will be treatment.
Okay, what happens to my sore butt?
There are a number of over-the-counter treatments and medicines for hemorrhoids, some of which can be disquieting and uncomfortable — while various creams and suppositories have been known to work rectal miracles, it should be known that these treatments require butt insertion of one kind or another. The biggest downside, though, is that they merely treat the symptoms — getting rid of hemorrhoids altogether will take a more permanent fix.
Probably the toughest part of ridding oneself of ‘rrhoids is changing what you eat. Red meat and fried foods are the enemy, so when it comes to your meals, you’re going to have to go green, switching out those steaks and frites for grilled fish and a healthy salad. Sorry. Most importantly, you should eat a lot of fiber: Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans and oatmeal are your new best friends.
Also, you’ll want to drink a lot of water . Water helps clean the system and soften stools, because if they’re too dry, then they’ll be hard, and thus, more difficult to push out. So, drink up, it’s good for you.
Also, if you sit down in a chair for prolonged times at work — which nine-to-fivers almost universally do — start scheduling intermittent standing and stretching breaks, every 15 to 20 minutes.
And what about my, ahem… routine?
When going number two, it’s important not to spend too much time on the toilet, as that can place damaging pressure and strain on your stomach and colon, so prepare to save all that comic book reading and dump dialing of your relatives for when you’re in bed.
In terms of how you spend the now limited time you will be spending on the toilet, be careful not to force your stools out. Relax and let things flow. Speaking of which, are you stressed out these days? If so, try not to get too worked up: That only hurts you and your pooping abilities. Exhale, chill out and release gingerly during your porcelain bombing runs.
When you do have to go, remember to do just that: Don’t wait, because that builds unnecessary pressure down below, not to mention a backup in your system (ew).
My hemorrhoids are gone! Now what?
“Woo-hoo! The evil hemorrhoids have been vanquished from the interdimensional portal from which they came! Time to celebrate with a big steak, followed by reading the whole of War and Peace on the can!”
Check yourself. Just because you cure your hemorrhoids once, doesn’t mean they’re gone forever. As a matter of fact, your symptoms may only be temporarily nullified, simply because you’re on good behavior. If you revert back to your old, unhealthy, pre-30-year-old ways, your hemorrhoids can return with a vengeance. Sure, you should enjoy some of those old bad habits from time to time, but you’ll have to do it in moderation.
The bottom line is, you need to go easy on yourself, eat better and be focused on making quality number twos — after all, you’re number one.