It’s not the most pleasant of topics but the fact of the matter is that a substantial amount of over 60s have hemorrhoids or have had them. Caused by the hemorrhoidal veins around your anus bulging or swelling from pressure in the lower rectum, they can also come about if you:
- Strain during bowel movements
- Sit for long periods of time on the toilet
- Have chronic diarrhea or constipation
- Are obese
- Have a low fibre diet
Hemorrhoids are more likely as you get older because the tissues that support the veins in your rectum and anus can weaken and stretch with ageing. The fact of the matter is that piles are completely preventable and you also don’t have to suffer if you do have them.
Eat more fibre
Adding fibre to your diet is important for not only your overall health, but your digestive and bowel health. Psyllium husk is a great way of getting more fibre in your diet, as well as grains, fruits and veggies.
Go when you need to go
When you feel the urge to go, go immediately. If you put off going to the toilet, it can aggravate hemorrhoidal veins.
Squat or elevate
In our recent article, we discussed the correct way to do a bowel movement. Science shows that if you squat and make an easier passage for your stools to go, you will have fewer piles and better overall bowel health. If you can’t feasibly squat over your toilet, put a high stool in front of your toilet. This should stop you from straining when you’re trying to go.
Drink heaps of water
This hemorrhoid prevention strategy is easy and cheap, yet so few of us over 60s actually do it. Along with eating a healthy high-fibre diet, we need adequate hydration. Drinking enough water helps prevent constipation and therefore decreases straining, a major cause of hemorrhoids. And it’s beneficial for your entire body too – over 60s have the highest rates of dehydration and can often end up in hospital.
Exercise keeps your colon in good health and makes your bowel movements more regular. Yoga, swimming, or walking are all proven to prevent hemorrhoids from flaring up.
Laxatives should be avoided if possible by eating a high-fibre diet but if you have to, use osmotic laxatives that work by filtering more water into the gut and reduce constipation.
If you do have hemorrhoids, you don’t have to suffer. There are a number of ways to treat them.
This common liquid is great for soothing hemorrhoids and decreases bleeding, as well as pain, itching and swelling. Apply on a cotton pad and leave for 10-15 minutes before taking away.
Pelvic floor exercises
Believe it or not, your pelvic floor can help improve constipation problems if it is strong. According to physiotherapist and Starts at 60 expert Michelle Kenway, the anal sphincter relaxes during normal bowel movements. Pelvic floor exercises can help to increase your awareness of your pelvic floor muscles and promote anal sphincter control. Improving your anal sphincter control helps you relax your anal sphincter during bowel movements, alleviating hemorrhoid problems.
While the anal sphincter relaxes during normal emptying, other muscles in the pelvic floor contract to support the pelvic floor and assist complete emptying. Strengthening these pelvic floor muscles can help some women to overcome constipation, improve emptying and reduce straining.
Aloe vera is well known for its anti-inflammatory and therapeutic properties and can be used to treat both internal and external hemorrhoids.
If you have internal piles, take an aloe vera ‘leaf’ and cut off the thorns, then into strips. Freeze these overnight and use to relieve. If your hemorrhoids are external, take aloe vera and rub the area with the gel.
It’s full of antioxidants and other nutrients that can strengthen blood vessels.
Apply freshly squeezed lemon juice and saturate a cotton ball, applying to the piles. There might be a burning sensation but then will relieve it.
Olive oil’s soothing properties can help to treat inflamed and swollen blood vessels in and around the anus.
Dab on some olive oil and gently massage into the hemorrhoids.
Like olive oil, coconut oil is effective in treating hemorrhoids. Coconut oil has saturated oils that contain many nutrients which your body requires to prevent the swollen veins.
Apply using a cotton ball and repeat once a day.
Black tea bags
Tannic acid present in the tea has natural astringent property that helps to reduce the swelling and pain associated with hemorrhoids.
Dip a black tea bag in a cup of hot water and leave for a few minutes before removing. Let it cool and apply to the swollen veins for 10 minutes, 2-3 times a day. Cold and used tea bags can also help.
Other ways to reduce piles
- Gently blot the anus with wet toilet paper or wet wipes after each bowel movement.
- Rinse off in the shower or use a bidet instead of rubbing the anal area or wiping yourself with toilet paper.
- Regularly use soaps that don’t contain perfumes or dyes.
- Apply the ice for several times a day for about 10 minutes at a time, followed by a warm compress on the anal area for another 20.
- Have a sitz bath and fill your bathtub with warm water to cover the anal area and repeat the same for several times a day particularly whenever you have a bowel movement.
If hemorrhoids persist no matter what steps you take to make them go away, or they begin to bleed, interfere with bowel movements, or make life difficult, ask your doctor about medical procedures to remove or reduce hemorrhoids.
Have you tried any of these remedies? Or do you know of any other remedies that treat this hemorrhoids effectively?