Hemorrhoids – swollen veins in the interior or exterior of the anus. They can cause blood in the stool, pain and difficulty during bowel movements. They can even prevent you from sitting comfortably in a chair. The question is, how do you get hemorrhoids? Is there a purely physical cause, does it relate to a health problem, or can stress cause hemorrhoids?
How Do You Get Hemorrhoids?
By knowing a bit more about some of the causes of hemorrhoids, you may be able to prevent them from occurring as often, and deal with them faster when they do occur. Using simple hemorrhoid prevention techniques is a good place to start, if you are prone to developing this problem.
So why do people get hemorrhoids? On this page we will look at the topic of stress and hemorrhoids.
Can Stress Cause Hemorrhoids?
Are hemorrhoids caused by chronic stress? Stress is known to cause high blood pressure and exacerbate heart disease. It may add to problems with weight gain or loss. But can stress cause hemorrhoids to flare up? The short answer is no…and yes. How is this possible? Well, stress does not directly cause piles, but flare-ups tend to happen in times of stress. The correlation is strong enough to warrant a good examination.
Feeling stressed, due to pressure at work, relationship or family trouble, or anything else, will not directly cause hemorrhoids. Unlike high blood pressure, stress does not automatically put pressure on your anal canal. However, according to an article published by the University of Texas in Austin, hemorrhoid and stress are connected – flare-ups often occur during times of stress.
Stress, Constipation and Hemorrhoids
How could this happen? Well, for a lot of people, stress eating is a real factor. Often, when we are feeling the pressures and strains of life, we tend to overeat on junk food and comfort foods, which are often starchy and fatty, rather than lean and high in fiber. You can see, then, how stress may lead to a diet that contributes to constipation, which then leads to pressure on the anal canal and hemorrhoid flare-ups. Constipation is so often cited as one of the main causes of hemorrhoids.
So, does stress cause hemorrhoids? The answer is, there is no definitive answer. It may be a factor though. If you’re under stress at work or at home, consider what you’re eating and how it’s affecting your colon. You may also want to consider how tense you feel and if that may be causing more strain, as well.
Why Do People Get Hemorrhoids?
According to an article from Harvard Medical School on the physical cause of a hemorrhoid flare-up, the condition occurs when the anal canal’s smooth muscle is tighter than normal. When this happens, straining causes the increased pressure, pushing the veins that help regulate bowel movements against the sphincter muscle. If this condition lasts long enough, the connective tissue supporting those veins weakens, allowing the veins to prolapse and swell.
So that could be a basic physical cause. Anything that causes strain on the anal canal over a long period of time may cause the problem.
Activities That Do and Don’t Cause Hemorrhoids
So what else causes hemorrhoids to flare up? We know that stress is not a direct cause but should be avoided and/or monitored to avoid any outbreak of piles. But are there specific activities, foods, or other causes that should be avoided? Let’s take a look at some of the things that do and do not cause hemorrhoids to flare up.
Running and Other Vigorous Exercise
If you have never had this problem, and you don’t have a family history of flare-ups, running is very unlikely to cause it, or be the sole causal factor in any eruption. Some explosive exercises, such as some forms of weight lifting, involve a good deal of strain, though, which can cause existing hemorrhoids to prolapse, swell, and become inflamed.
If you have a history of flare-ups, talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen, especially one that involves high-intensity, vigorous exercise, such as explosive lifting. Even if you have had hemorrhoids in the past, going for a jog or doing a light cardiovascular workout on an elliptical machine should not cause you to have a flare-up.
Alcohol and Hemorrhoids
Can alcohol cause hemorrhoids? Much like stress, just drinking one or two cocktails, beers, or glasses of wine is unlikely to cause any flare up. However, alcohol is a diuretic, which means it will contribute to dehydration if you imbibe too much without drinking any water.
By itself, dehydration can lead to constipation, and alcohol abuse can lead to other bowel problems, including diarrhea. Constipation and diarrhea are both linked with causing and / or exacerbating hemorrhoid flare-ups.
So, if you have the occasional adult beverage with friends, you’re not likely to cause yourself more problems with hemorrhoids. However, if you drink to excess, especially if you do so regularly, you may be inviting this problem to erupt at some point in the future.
Hemorrhoid Causes and Your Health
While the answer to how you get hemorrhoids isn’t exactly cut and dried, you can decrease your chances of flare-ups by eating a well balanced hemorrhoid friendly diet, staying hydrated, and maintaining a healthy body weight. Hemorrhoids are often linked with obesity, so making healthy lifestyle changes (exploring healthy and hopefully enjoyable ways to loose some weight) could be the key to never suffering from this problem again.
In our follow up article: What Causes Hemorrhoids To Flare Up? 15 Possible Reasons we’ll discuss some of the facts and falsehoods regarding the causes of hemorrhoids.