By CARINA WOLFF
Getting a hemorrhoid is unpleasant and uncomfortable, and if you’ve ever had one, you might find yourself wondering how it even happened in the first place. Hemorrhoids are actually very common, and there are a number of everyday habits you may not have realized could be causes of hemorrhoids. Anything that involves sitting down for too long or putting strain on your bottom area can cause this unwanted condition, and your daily activities may include more of these types of habits than you previously thought.
“Hemorrhoids are swollen veins at the lower end of your rectum and anus,” Navya Mysore, MDCM, CCFP tells Bustle. “They swell with increased pressure, which can make the walls of the veins thin and therefore at risk for irritation. Hemorrhoids are classified into two separate groups — internal and external. Internal hemorrhoids originate in the rectum (higher up) and external originates in the anus (lower down).”
Hemorrhoids most commonly occur as a result of straining on the toilet, but they can also happen more frequently when you’re pregnant or from anal intercourse. Because 75 percent of people experience hemorrhoids in their life, you’ll want to know the best ways to avoid them. Here are seven common habits you didn’t know cause hemorrhoids, according to experts.
1. Not Eating Enough Fiber
Your diet can play a role in how likely you are to get hemorrhoids. “If you have a diet that is lacking adequate amounts of fiber, then you may become constipated,” Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, M.D., M.S. tells Bustle. “When you are constipated, you may strain and bear down excessively in an attempt to push stool out of the body. Subsequently, pressure can be placed on the veins in the rectum and anal canal and eventually lead to hemorrhoid formation.”
2. Overexerting Yourself At The Gym
“Lifting heavy weights and any other heavy objects may cause you to strain so hard that you may potentially develop hemorrhoids,” says Dr. Okeke-Igboke. Rather than push yourself to the point that you feel like you might explode, relax, focus on form, and don’t strain too hard — or you might experience some uncomfortable issues down the line.
3. Sitting On The Toilet Too Long
It’s nice to crack open a magazine while going to the bathroom, but squatting your tail down on the toilet for more than five minutes at a time may be a bad idea. “What happens here is that your pelvic muscles naturally relax, in preparation for defecation,” gastroenterologist Will Bulsiewicz, MD, MSCI tells Bustle. “Your muscles are conditioned to loosen up when you sit on the toilet. When this happens, blood flows more freely into the hemorrhoids. More blood means plumper, juicier hemorrhoids, which means more problems.” So it may be best not to linger longer than necessary.
4. Sitting On The Couch Too Long
We all love a good Netflix binge, but sitting around for too long — or not getting enough exercise — can lead to more hemorrhoids. Prolonged sitting can put pressure on the veins. “Exercising makes the pressure on the veins less,” says Mysore, as long as you’re not over-exerting yourself.
5. Not Drinking Enough Water
Another reason it’s important to stay hydrated: Not drinking enough water can lead to hemorrhoids, since dehydration can cause constipation. “Not drinking enough water can make the stool harder and make it harder to evacuate,” says Mysore.
If you’re someone who spends a lot of time biking or at spin class, you may unknowingly be putting yourself at risk for hemorrhoids. “By cramming that hard bike seat into their perineum and then leaning forward, a biker not only increases blood flow to the hemorrhoids but also applies pressure that may impair drainage of the juice,” says Dr. Bulsiewicz. “Anytime you put yourself into a squatted position for hours on end, you are running the risk of aggravating the [hemorrhoids].”
7. Eating Spicy Foods
Most people associate hemorrhoids with constipation, but they can also happen with diarrhea. If you eat too much spicy food, and this leads to diarrhea, you may experience hemorrhoids as a result, says Dr. Bulsiewicz. “Focus on maintaining good regular bowel movements with a healthy dose of fiber, and don’t overdo it on the spicy and greasy stuff.”
If you think suffer from frequent hemorrhoids, it’s best to see a doctor, who can help you get to the root of the problem.
Learn more on Bustle.