Home Remedies for Hemorrhoids

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You may not want to talk about it, even with a healthcare provider, but you are not alone in your suffering. It is estimated that one out of every 20 people in the United States have hemorrhoids. That number represents millions of people.

Like you, most of those millions would rather suffer from the discomfort from their hemorrhoids than seek professional help. This may be why you, and so many others, are searching for home remedies to ease your discomfort.

Though there are things you can do at home that might help you reduce your discomfort, you should schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider right away if you have rectal bleeding or your home remedies fail to improve your hemorrhoids within a week. Here is what you need to know.

What Are Hemorrhoids

Hemorrhoids are enlarged, swollen veins that develop in the anus or lower rectum. They are a lot like varicose veins, which are those purple, ropey veins often found in a person's legs. There are two main types of hemorrhoids—internal hemorrhoids and external hemorrhoids.

Internal hemorrhoids are swollen veins found in the lower rectum and lining of the anus. These types of hemorrhoids generally do not cause pain, but they may bleed during a bowel movement. 

Meanwhile, external hemorrhoids form under the skin around the anus. This area is a bit more sensitive than the lower rectum and these hemorrhoids may cause anal pain or itching. 

What Causes Hemorrhoids

Your rectum, which includes the lower rectum and anus, makes up the last part of your large intestine. The tissue in your rectum stretches, allowing you to hold and eliminate stool. Unfortunately, this stretching also affects your blood vessels, causing them to expand and the walls to weaken.

Though researchers are still trying to figure out what causes hemorrhoids, too much pressure on the lower portion of your abdomen seems to play a significant role in their development.

Constipation, straining during a bowel movement, and spending long periods of time sitting on the toilet are common predisposing factors in people with hemorrhoids. Eating a low-fiber diet is also a contributing risk factor. 

Hemorrhoids are also common in pregnant people and those who repeatedly lift heavy objects. Your risk of developing hemorrhoids increases as you get older because of the weakening of the supportive tissues for your lower rectum and anus that occurs with aging. Half of all adults over age 50 have hemorrhoids.

Home Remedies for Hemorrhoids

The National Library of Medicine indicates that you can treat your hemorrhoids at home. So that means home remedies are the first line of treatment for hemorrhoids. Most home remedies center around nutrition and habits, but there are a few at-home treatments that may ease your discomfort too.

Changing Bathroom Habits

Too much pressure on the veins in your anus and rectum contributes to the development of hemorrhoids. One of the bathroom habits you can easily change to minimize pressure is not sitting on the toilet for long periods of time.

Instead of using the bathroom as your reading sanctuary, make it a quick stop to do your business and quickly move on. The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons says to keep your toilet sitting time to no more than 1 to 2 minutes. You also want to avoid straining during a bowel movement. 

Increasing Fiber Intake

Eating a low-fiber diet increases your risk of developing hemorrhoids. Why? Because not getting enough fiber leads to constipation. To avoid constipation—and straining—you need to add more fiber-rich foods to your meal plans, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Fiber softens and bulks up your stool, making it easier to pass. 

Adults need about 20 to 30 grams of fiber a day. You are not alone if you fall short of these recommendations. In fact, 95% of Americans fail to meet their daily fiber needs. But adding more fiber to your diet can alleviate and prevent hemorrhoids. When upping your daily fiber intake, go slow. Adding too much fiber too fast worsens constipation. 

Drinking Plenty of Water

Drinking more water also helps ease constipation and straining during a bowel movement, especially when adding more fiber.  How much water you need to drink a day depends on your age, activity level, medical history, and weather in your area.

Talk to a healthcare provider for recommendations. But the Recommended Dietary Allowances indicate that adults need 11 to 15 cups of water a day.

Adding a Fiber Supplement

Adding a fiber supplement to your daily routine may also soften stools, preventing constipation and straining. In fact, adding a fiber supplement and following the other recommendations—limiting toilet time, not straining during a bowel movement, and decreasing the number of times you visit the bathroom—stops the progression of your hemorrhoids and the bleeding.

Supplements also may prevent the need for more invasive surgery, but you should talk to a healthcare provider before adding them to your regimen. Also, when using an over-the-counter fiber supplement, follow the directions on the package and do not take these supplements for more than one week.

Sitting in a Tub of Warm Water

Soaking in a tub of warm water is not only relaxing but can be healing as well. This home remedy, also known as a sitz bath, eases your pain and increases blood flow to the area, helping shrink the swollen veins and support the healing process.

Though you may consider adding witch hazel or tea tree oil to your sitz bath, there is not enough research about whether these anti-inflammatory herbal agents help or not. Plain warm water works fine. Soak for 10 to 20 minutes a few times a day. 

When to Visit a Healthcare Provider

If you still have hemorrhoid symptoms after a week of your home remedies, you need to make an appointment with a healthcare provider. You also should schedule an appointment right away before you try any home remedies if you have rectal bleeding.

It is more than likely your rectal bleeding is because of your hemorrhoids, but gastrointestinal bleeding is a serious symptom you should not ignore. Bleeding may be a sign of some other conditions like colon cancer, Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis.

A Word from Verywell

While changes to diet and lifestyle are often the first lines of treatment for hemorrhoids, it is always best to consult with a healthcare provider before trying anything new. Together, you can discuss the next steps.

Even though it can be awkward to discuss your hemorrhoids, do not put off having this important discussion with a healthcare provider. There is no need to prolong your suffering when there are options that can provide relief.

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8 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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