What are haemorrhoids?
They’re known by a wealth of jokey names, including piles, roids, bum grapes, and anal speedbumps – yes, really! – but haemorrhoids are usually no laughing matter. They take the form of visible veins around your anus, that can bulge or swell, and bleed.
Haemorrhoids are most commonly caused by childbirth, however men find they’ve developed them after straining on the toilet. Obesity and a low fibre diet can also be a factor.
And you age, the tissues that support the veins in your rectum and anus can weaken and stretch, making haemorrhoids more likely. But this doesn’t mean they are inevitable – they are completely preventable and you don’t have to suffer if you do have them.
The most common symptom of haemorrhoids is seeing fresh blood on the toilet paper or in your stool. Other symptoms include:
- Blood clots or lumps around the anus
- Anal pain
Here are some natural ways to treat them:
The liquid is great for soothing haemorrhoids 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, a strong pelvic floor can help improve constipation problems. According to physiotherapist and Starts at 60 expert Michelle Kenway, pelvic floor exercises can help to increase your awareness of your muscles in the area and promote anal sphincter control. Improving your anal sphincter control helps you relax it during bowel movements, alleviating haemorrhoid 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 haemorrhoids.
If you have internal piles, take an aloe vera ‘leaf’ and cut off the thorns so only the soft flesh is left, then into strips. Freeze these overnight, then insert them to relieve your pain. If your haemorrhoids are external, take rub the area with the aloe vera gel.
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 haemorrhoids.
Like olive oil, coconut oil is effective in treating haemorrhoids. 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 tea has natural astringent property that helps to reduce the swelling and pain associated with haemorrhoids.
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.
- Eat more fibre: Adding fibre to your diet is important for not only your overall health, but your digestive and bowel health.
- 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 haemorrhoidal veins.
- Squat or elevate: 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 to elevate your feet.
- Drink heaps of water: This haemorrhoid prevention strategy is easy and cheap, yet so few of us over 60s actually do it.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise keeps your colon in good health and makes your bowel movements more regular.
- Avoid long-term use of laxatives: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 reducing constipation.
- 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.
- Use soaps that don’t contain perfumes or dyes.
- Apply ice several times a day for about 10 minutes at a time, followed by a warm compress on the anal area for another 20 minutes.
- Have a sitz bath: Fill your bathtub with warm water sufficient to cover the buttocks and repeat the same several times a day, particularly whenever you have a bowel movement.
This article originally appeared on Starts at 60.